Mobile Home Taxes

Taxes on Mobile Homes

Mobile homes in California are taxed either through the local property tax system administered by the county in which the mobile home is situated or by payment of vehicle "in-lieu" license fees to the State.

Prior to July 1, 1980, mobile homes (also known as manufactured homes) in California were treated as vehicles, subject to taxation through license fees. This changed with the enactment of the Mobile Home Property Tax Law of 1980, which provided for the taxing of mobile homes in a manner similar to conventional homes. Homes manufactured after July 1, 1980 are subject to local property taxes. Homes purchased prior to July 1, 1980 pay an annual vehicle license fee to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). HCD is responsible for providing titling and registration documents which evidence ownership, security interest and registration status of mobile homes, as well as providing a method for recording ownership and security interests. 

For additional information, please refer to the California Department of Housing and Community Development website or call (916) 455-4782.

My Mobile Home is Sitting on a Permanent Foundation on My Property - How Will it Be Taxed?

For purposes of taxation, mobile homes affixed to the land on a permanent foundation are not considered "mobile" homes, but are viewed instead as modular housing, and have always been taxed in the same way as conventional homes. If your mobile home is not attached to a permanent foundation, for example, if your mobile home is in a mobile home park please read on. Throughout the remainder of this pamphlet, the term "mobile home" refers only to those that are not on permanent foundations.

Under Which Circumstances Would My Mobile Home Automatically Become Subject to Local Property Taxes as Opposed to in-Lieu License Fees?

If your mobile home was originally purchased new on or after July 1, 1980, it was automatically subject to local property taxes. Also if the license fees on your mobile home, regardless of when it was originally purchased became delinquent on or before May 31, 1984, your mobile home was automatically converted to the local property tax system. (Delinquent license fees no longer cause automatic transfer to local property taxation.)

Are There Any Advantages to Changing From in-Lieu License Fees to Local Property Taxation?

There may be advantages, but each case must be evaluated individually. One possible advantage is that property taxes are payable in two annual installments. You also may be entitled to the $7,000 homeowner's exemption or other exemptions administered by the County Assessor. In addition to County exemptions, you may be eligible for the tax assistance and postponement program offered by the State of California. Finally, it is important to note that mobile homes subject to local property taxation are exempt from any sales or use tax. Therefore, you may enhance the marketability of your mobile home by voluntarily converting it to local property taxation prior to selling it. Once you convert to local property taxation, however, you cannot revert back to vehicle license fees.

If I Buy a Used Mobile Home Subject to Local Property Taxes, How Do I Get the Title Transferred to My Name?

Mobile home title issuance is administered by the State's Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). That department cannot transfer title of a used mobile home subject to local property taxes or direct charges by fire districts or other fees without a tax clearance from the county tax collector of the county in which the mobile home is situated. If there are any taxes or other fees owing, they must be paid before a Tax Clearance Certificate can be issued.

Remember that this type of title transfer applies only to mobile homes not on permanent foundations. If your mobile home is attached to a permanent foundation, title transfers are handled by the County Recorder in the same manner as for conventional homes.

What Happens if I Fail to Pay My Mobile Home Property Taxes on Time?

If you do not pay the first installment of your annual tax bill at the Tax Collector's office by 5 p.m. on December 10, or payment is not postmarked by that time and date, then that installment becomes delinquent, and a 10% delinquent penalty on the unpaid taxes is incurred. If you fail to pay the second installment at the Tax Collector's office by 5 p.m. on April 10, or payment is not postmarked by that time and date, it also becomes delinquent and incurs the 10% penalty plus a $55 cost. Likewise, if you fail to pay any supplemental tax bill installment by the applicable delinquency date, the same penalties accrue as for delinquent annual taxes.

As soon as an installment becomes delinquent, the County has the right to take any of the following steps to collect the unpaid taxes and penalties on a mobile home:

  • File a Certificate of Tax Lien for record with the County Recorder. This is a 10-year lien against all personal and real property owned by the assessee, which may be renewed every 10 years until the tax is paid
  • Initiate seizure and sale of the mobile home at a public auction
  • File a lawsuit
  • Obtain a summary judgment