In the meantime, owners of mobile homes have had little choice but to rely on the good graces of the dominant financing firms.
As Ms. Burnworth found out, that can be tough. Her unemployment checks were not enough to cover her costs after she lost several short-term jobs, including one with the Census Bureau. She sought a loan modification from 21st Mortgage to reduce her monthly payments, but she said the company was unwilling to offer her one — even after she began getting regular checks in August from the government to care for her son.
In a statement, Clayton Homes, the parent company of 21st Mortgage, said it didn’t make loan modifications, believing that offering borrowers a short-term credit for a missed payment works better. The company said it had provided Ms. Burnworth with credits totaling $3,649 toward her mortgage when she encountered financial problems in previous years and did not demand repayment.
“It’s my responsibility to take care of the house and make the payments, but it’s hard to keep a job when you have a sick child,” Ms. Burnworth said. She said she had already shelled out over $130,000 in principal and interest over the life of the loan, which carries a 9.25 percent interest rate. Clayton disputed the amount she had paid and noted that it hadn’t owned her loan in the first few years she lived in the home.
Daily Business Briefing
While Ms. Burnworth owns the land her mobile home sits on, many mobile home owners rent space from mobile home park operators, which are increasingly run by large real estate firms. This arrangement means mobile home owners can find themselves making payments to both a finance company and a real estate firm — increasing their odds of being evicted if they fall into financial distress.
Already, there are indications that evictions could rise when the moratorium and postpandemic relief ends. A review of eviction filings in six states by Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a not-for-profit advocacy group, found five large mobile home park operators in a list of 150 corporate landlords that have been filing the most eviction actions since the federal moratorium went into effect in September.
Raul Noriega, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid who specializes in manufactured-housing cases, said an eviction for not paying rent to a park operator could be tantamount to a mortgage foreclosure because moving a trailer could cost several thousand dollars.
Read More: Mobile Home Owners Fear Evictions as Pandemic Protections End