By Brett T. Lashley and Stanley D. Klett, Jr.
Jones Foster was recently engaged by a client to obtain title for a permanently situated mobile home in the small coastal community of Briny Breezes, Florida. This article outlines the procedures mobile home owners may undertake if title is lost or is not properly obtained at the time of purchase.
When title to real property is clouded, a property owner may file a lawsuit to quiet title. Through the quiet title process, a property owner can clear up and/or remove clouded title. What recourse do mobile home owners have?
In Florida, title to mobile homes is governed by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“FDHSMV”). The FDHSMV is an agency of the State of Florida with duly constituted, statutory authority for the issuance of license tags, identification numbers, plates, and title certificates for mobile homes as well as motor vehicles.
Is there a uniform procedure?
The State of Florida requires a mobile home owner to obtain a court order directing the FDHSMV to issue a certificate of title for any lost title. Although there is no uniform procedure delineating how to obtain a court order, certain counties in Florida have outlined the procedure. See Hernando County’s procedures and Administrative Order 2021-13-Civ/2021-14-CO of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida. In these declaratory actions, the mobile home owner will need to name the last known owner of the mobile home and the FDHSM as defendants in the lawsuit.
What will you need?
At a minimum, mobile home owners will need:
- A complaint for declaratory relief;
- A bill of sale for the mobile home;
- The VIN number of the mobile home; and
- An affidavit of diligent search for the mobile home’s prior owner.
After you have filed a lawsuit for declaratory judgment with the required paperwork, the Court may issue an order directing the FDHSMV to issue the plaintiff a certificate of title for the mobile home. Once the order is issued, the mobile home owner should present the FDHSMV with the order, any additional applications required by the FDHSMV, and all associated costs and fees. Upon the submittal of the required documents and fees, the FDHSMV will issue the mobile home a certificate of title.
For additional information or questions regarding mobile homeownership or procedures for obtaining title, we urge you to contact the authors of this article or a representative of Jones Foster here.