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With Popularity of Mobile Homes Come Clean-Up Problems

Posted May 7, 2007
Updated May 8, 2007

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— North Carolina ranks second in the nation in the number of mobile homes, and new and slightly used manufactured houses are home sweet home to many families.

For those who live near run-down, abandoned mobile homes, however, the picture is less than perfect, and George Hatcher knows all about that.

Hatcher is a Cumberland County code inspector, one of three who answer complaints about abandoned mobile homes. He tracks down the owners of abandoned mobile homes and puts a lien on the property for the amount it costs to remove and demolish the dwellings, he said Monday.

Eventually, he said, he locates all the owners, though the process can take a long time – sometimes a year or more.

One example is 6124 Canadian Ave. Nobody's been home there for years, and what greeted Hatcher when he went there were a shattered TV set, spattered paint and tattered insulation.

“Probably within this neighborhood, there's 10 to 12 homes just like this right here," Hatcher said.

Clarence Freeman is a neighbor.

"Somebody needs to do something about them, to keep the kids from getting hurt, young kids going in and the windows getting knocked out of them," Freeman said.

But inspectors in other counties say sometimes it’s impossible to pin down the owners, and the county must pay for removal and demolition – which can run from $1,500 to $2,000.

Hatcher says the empty boxes are a public safety hazard.

“It reduces your property value. It’s creating an unsafe environment,” Hatcher said.

Inspectors across the state say sometimes it's impossible to locate owners, leaving the county to pay for removal, which can run $2,000.

Cumberland County budgeted $25,000 this year for removing abandoned mobile homes, but officials say they could use a lot more.

State Rep. Joe P. Tolson, D-Edgecombe, has proposed a $300 tax on the sale of new manufactured homes, with the money to go into an account that counties can use for hauling away abandoned trailers.

Some home dealers have expressed concern about the tax, but Tolson wants to hear an alternative.

“Our comment to them is, sit down, talk with us, let us know what they would suggest, and we can work out a bill that is workable,’" Tolson said.

Operators of The Home Center in Fayetteville welcome the idea.

"To me, in my opinion, it would be a small price to pay when you've got loans going out for at least $100,000," said the center’s Brett Milligan.

As for the number of mobile homes, North Carolina is second in the country only to South Carolina, where more than 18 percent of homes are mobile. In North Carolina, the number is 16.8 percent, just above the No. 3 state, New Mexico, with 16.6 percent.


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  • Turfie May 8, 2007

    Tear all houses, mobile homes, condos, and hotels down, and everybody nmove into tents that are exactly alike. Problem solved. Will decompose in two years, buy another one.

  • jhndlp May 8, 2007

    Very true problem about abandoned mobile homes, but no more of an eyesore than some of the unused tobacco barns (some inside current city limits)...Demolish these as well, and charge the owners...But that isn't popular with NC tobacco industry,hmmmm.

  • ReelThing May 8, 2007

    Tornado "bait". ROFL! Good one, Milky

  • seeingthru May 8, 2007

    gives the term trailer trash a whole different perspective doesn't it? just the same as abandoned cars, white goods mattresses etc people=trash

  • 2late May 8, 2007

    re:"2late..you saw that post too?"...yes...unbelievable huh?

  • MiIky May 8, 2007

    Why is this issue so hard for people? Put the abandoned mobile homes in a field full of windmills and we'll have an ever renewable source of energy from the tornado's that they would attract.

    *no disrespect meant to the victims of tornados of mobile homeowners.

  • Pirattitude May 8, 2007


    Sure they do, they're busy getting a college education that you're paying for! Also, chances are high that the previous owner of one of those abandoned homes would be one of the jailbirds that you think should be tearing them down.


  • HARDWRKR May 8, 2007

    What is so hard about finding the owner? Every parcel of land in North Carolina has a deed and a person who should be paying taxes on that land. That it the person who should either have it moved, or tell the county to come get it if it is not being used and is run down. Why is this such a problem?

  • bill0 May 8, 2007

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but by any economic comparison, a mobile home is a bad long term investment. Even when kept up, they lose value over time. Houses gain value over time. Unless you plan to live in a mobile home for the rest of your life, it pays to get into a house as soon as you an afford to.

    As for who has to pay for disposal, it is going to come back on the renters no matter what. Even if you make the landlord pay, he's just going to have to pass that along as higher rent. It really isn't any different that anything else in life. Healthy people pay extra for insurance to cover the sick and elderly. Good drivers pay inflated premiums to cover accidents caused by bad drivers. We all always get stuck cleaning up the mess of irresponsible people.

  • keiott May 8, 2007

    anything is only as good as the maintenance done on it. I know a family that has been living in the same mobile home for over 30 years. it is in as good of shape today as it was 30 years ago. unfortunatly in this day and age, we will pay for those that won't take care of themselves. wether it be there home or themselves. we get to pay for those that refuse to be responsible.