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  1. #1

    Default Can Life Estate Holder Force Remaindermen to Remove Their Mobile Home

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Wisconsin

    My uncle owned vacation property that he shared with his siblings. We used a cottage on the property and he also allowed us to place a mobile home on the property 40 years ago. When he died, his wife got a life estate ownership of the property and we became remaindermen. She put a camping trailer on the property. The life estate holder and remaindermen shared the property amicably for years, dividing up the real estate taxes informally. A dispute a few years ago ended the amicable relationship. Law suits were resolved with mediation: the remaindermen were given access to the property a few weekends a year for a yearly rent payment.

    The agreement expires this fall, and we are now negotiating a new agreement. The life estate holder has nearly doubled the rent amount. If we don't agree to the rent agreement, she says we must remove the mobile home, the deck and all of our possessions from the property, and have no further access to the property. The mobile home was on the property long before the life estate holder took possession. The mobile home is connected to a septic system, a well and has a deck attached to the front. The tires and hitch are still on the home, but being 50+ years old, the tires and bearings are not "roadworthy". The home rests on cement blocks. The home is at the end of a half mile, two rut road, with woods on either side. It would be difficult to remove the home even if it were still mobile. Can the life estate holder force us to remove the mobile home or have it removed herself?

    I believe it to be a permanent improvement to the property. I contend that the life estate holder is technically required to maintain the home in its present condition, and that we need to be able to inspect it a few times per year, even without paying rent. If we can't agree on a rental amount, we should still be able to inspect the home a few times a year. Am I correct?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Can Life Estate Holder Force Remaindermen to Remove Their Mobile Home

    Unless the life estate provides differently, and they rarely do, the life tenant has the exclusive right to use and enjoyment of the property during his lifetime. That means that he can rent all or part of the property, collect rent and keep it and, if he chooses, evict a tenant. You have indicated that as of a few years ago, this was explicitly made a landlord-tenant relationship, with the life tenant as the landlord and the remaindermen becoming tenants who paid rent to keep the home in place.

    A manufactured home that belongs to a tenant is not a permanent improvement of the landlord's property -- it's the tenant's separate property, and is likely also titled in the tenant's name. If your tenancy is terminated and an order of eviction issued, the manufactured home can be removed.

    If you want to keep your mobile home in place, you had best find a way to make nice. If that's not possible, have a lawyer review your mediation agreement and any associated consent judgment to see if there are provisions that offer protection -- those are issues we're not in a position to analyze or review.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Can Life Estate Holder Force Remaindermen to Remove Their Mobile Home

    The property taxes on the property increased when the mobile home was placed on the property, suggesting that the town considers the mobile home a permanent improvement to the property. If we had built a home on the property 40 years ago instead of placing the mobile home there, would the life estate holder be able to remove the home just because it belongs to the remaindermen? The mobile home was on the property long before the landlord-tenant relationship began. My uncle gave us permission to put the trailer there with no limitations on how long it could remain there, with no rent required. When the life estate holder took possession of the property, I believe the trailer was a permanent improvement to the property. She rented the use of the property, not just the home. Doesn't a mobile home become a permanent home when it loses it's mobility - connections to utilities, non-functioning wheels, supported by blocks? If we are forced to remove the home, it would likely result in the destruction of the home.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Can Life Estate Holder Force Remaindermen to Remove Their Mobile Home

    If it is a permanent part of the property, it falls under the control of the life tenant. She can rent it to whomever she wishes. She can refuse to allow anybody to enter the land and use the home barring a court’s order saying otherwise. It would no longer be your separate property.

    Generally no, you do not have a right to inspect anything unless a court says otherwise. You would be trespassing if you enter the lands against the life tenants wishes.

    I suggest you choose your position carefully. You could lose any access to the property at all.

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