The Statewide Title Newsletter and Legal Memorandum

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Issue  12  Article  22
Published:  7/1/1996

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More on Mobile Homes - A Recent Case
Alex Pinkston, Legal Assistant

In Young v. Lomax, 470 S.E.2d 80 (N.C. App 1996), the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a summary judgment in favor of subdivision lot owner plaintiffs against other lot owners for violation of a protective covenant which prohibited trailers and mobile homes.

In this case, defendant Helms was purchasing two lots from defendant Lomax. Helms placed a structure that he bought from Imperial Homes of Charlotte on one of the lots. As a result, plaintiffs sought a permanent mandatory injuction against the defendants compelling them to remove the structure because it violated the subdivision’s protective covenant against trailers and mobile homes.

The trial court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs, and defendants appealed contending that the term "mobile home" is subject to interpretation.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision by stating that case law clearly defines the term "mobile home" as "a structure that is designed to be moved, for transport." The fact that a structure is made immobile after it has been installed does not change the fact that the structure is a mobile home.

In the present case, defendant’s structure was delivered by truck, in two sections, each having its own permanent steel chassis with two "I" beams attached to the floor system of the unit and each attached to four axles with two wheels per axle. The court concluded that the structure was a mobile home as a matter of law.

The fact that defendant removed the wheels and axles and placed the structure on concrete blocks which were stacked to create piers did not change the structure’s classification as a mobile home because "rendering a structure immobile after it has been installed does not change the fact that the structure is still a mobile home."

The defendants relied on Angel v. Truitt, 108 N.C. App. 679, 424 S.E.2d 660, where the court concluded that the structure in question was not a mobile home since it had been placed on a foundation and could be moved only in the same manner in which a house built on-site could be moved. The court in Angel determined that the structure was not a mobile home because it was never designed for transport.

Therefore, based on the holding in Young v. Lomax, it seems that once a structure has been designed for transport, it will be classified as a mobile home despite the fact that the features which make it mobile are removed.

Statewide Title’s April 1996 newsletter discussed in detail mobile homes and manufactured housing units.

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