Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

I am an 88 year old widow living alone in a mobile home which I own. i do have to pay a monthly fee for the land on which the mobile sits. I would like to know if I should obtain a Declaration of Homestead. I live in California.


Asked on 9/09/10, 10:10 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

David Gibbs The Gibbs Law Firm, APC

Manufactured homes are a little bit more difficult when it comes to a homestead declaration, where they are located on leased-land. Manufactured homes are titled through the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and to the best of my knowledge, there is no ability to "record" a homestead declaration against the title of the home with HCD. The homes are essentially titled just like a car or RV. You may be able to record a homestead declaration with the County Recorder's office, but you will have to check with them to see if you can because you don't own the land on which the home resides, meaning there is no "chain of title" for the home at the Recorder's office. If the home is on Local Property Taxes (in other words, you don't pay annual registration, rather, you pay the County a property tax), it might be easier to record the homestead declaration because you have an Assessor's Parcel Number assigned to the home. It will be up to the County Recorder to determine if you can or cannot record a homestead. As for locating the actual form, you should hire an attorney to draft the document for you to ensure that it fully complies with the current state of the law.

All that being said, you may not need to record a homestead declaration. In California there are two statutes that protect your homestead. The first is California Code of Civil Procedure 704.950 which is a "Declared" homestead. This is the provision which does require a recorded homestead declaration as you indicated in your post. The second is California Code of Civil Procedure 704.730 which is an "automatic" homestead provision. This protects your property to a certain degree even without a recorded declaration. There are important distinctions between the two - far to long and complex to cover in this forum - but to the extent that you are doing this to protect your home from a forced sale by a judgment creditor, either homestead should protect your home.

I strongly encourage you to review this with an attorney in your area. I, nor anyone on this forum can give you a solid legal opinion as to how to deal with this. There are many more facts an attorney will need to decide which is the best option for you, and what is technically available to you. For instance, Section 704.730 refers to a mobilehome "and the land on which it resides" - you need counsel to research the question of whether or not your mobile home on leased land qualifies. Further, what are your goals for this declation - if you need the protection to survive your passing, then an "automatic" homestead is not the correct option. Homesteads are actually a pretty complex area of law, and one on which you need specific legal advice based on the specific facts of your personal situation. I wish there was a simple, easy answer, but the fact is that the California Legislature has made this a very complex area of law. Good luck.

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Answered on 9/14/10, 10:54 am


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