I recently was called on to inspect a manufactured home installation located along the eastern shore of Virginia. While reviewing the mountain of documents provided to the homeowner from the retailer, one document in particular caught my eye. A one-page, single sentence document that simply stated:
“The tires and axles are property of (the name and address of the retailer) and will be removed after delivery”
Really? Are the tires and axles the property of the dealer? Or do the belong to the purchaser? Is it okay for the dealer to just take them?
For me, the answer is pretty clear, although you might need some convincing. Let me share my thoughts and you can draw your own conclusions.
First look at the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards (HUD Code) and see what is says about the tires and axles. We all know that a manufactured home by definition must be “transportable” and “built on a permanent chassis” (24 CFR 3280.2) CLICK HERE to access the HUD Code.
While you are checking out the HUD Code, look at Subpart J “Transportation”. The general requirements at 24 CFR 3280.903(a) clearly state that the home must be designed to withstand the stresses of transportation for “its intended life”.
So, the HUD code requires a transportable home, not just to the initial location, but to future locations as well. But wait, there is more!
Look at 24 CFR 3280.902(a) that defines the term chassis.
“Chassis” means the entire transportation system comprising the following subsystems: drawbar and coupling mechanism, frame, running gear assembly and lights. This same section tells us that the running gear assembly is a subsystem consisting of springs, axles, bearings, wheels, hubs, tires and brakes and their related hardware.
By now, I hope you can agree that the tires and axles are required by the building code, the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards. Can a retailer write a statement into the sales contract and take them?
Look at retailer responsibilities that are outlined in the Manufactured Housing Procedural & Enforcement Regulations (24 CFR 3282.252). It states that a distributor or retailer is prohibited selling, leasing or offering for sale or lease a new manufactured home if he knows that it does not conform to any sections of the HUD Code. That would include the code sections that I referenced above. CLICK HERE to see these Regulations.
Ok…but what about having the homeowner sign an agreement, allowing you to remove the tires and axles? Let me make one final point. If you take a look at the federal law which is the basis for this entire program, there is one short section called “Prohibition of Waiver of Rights”. It states; “The rights afforded manufactured home purchasers…may not be waived and any provision of a contract or agreement entered into…to the contrary shall be void”. CLICK HERE and scroll to page 5657
So, what does all of this mean? To me it is simple. The tires and axles of a manufactured home are required by the code, and the purchaser has right to a manufactured home that meets all applicable aspects of the code. Any contracts to the contrary are void under the federal law.
Now I am not a lawyer, and as is the case with all of my posts, I am only sharing my opinions. I hope you find this information helpful in order to make informed decisions, and take steps to avoid any potential liability.
Your comments are invited!