The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the sale of several mobile homes through an auction in Hendricks County after finding the buyer did not comply with statutory requirements regarding timelines for conducting an auction.
Avon Village MHP, referred to as “New Avon” in the court opinion, purchased real estate in Hendricks County that was recently sold in a sheriff’s sale. The land contained a mobile home park, and there were several homes on the property at the time. New Avon signed leases with the tenants in some of the mobile homes. It then sought ownership of the homes and sent a notice through the mail to Avon Leasing, the recorded owner of the disputed mobile homes. It later sent a second notice notifying Avon Leasing that the homes would be sold at a public auction if not removed by a certain date.
Avon Leasing never responded and the mobile homes were acquired by New Avon through the auction. A week later, Mobile Home Management Indiana LLC purchased the disputed mobile homes from Avon Leasing. The county treasurer refused to issue new titles due to the disputed ownership.
The two sides asked the court to declare it the rightful owner of the mobile homes. The trial court ruled in favor of New Avon.
The dispute brings up an issue of first impression, as it appears no other court has interpreted the provisions at issue in I.C. 9-22-1.5-1, et seq., the Abandoned Mobile Homes chapter, Judge Margret Robb noted in Mobile Home Management Indiana, LLC v. Avon Village MHP, LLC, State of Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Treasurer of Hendricks County Indiana, 32A04-1401-MI-6.
The COA ruled New Avon failed to comply with the chapter’s statutory requirements.
“(New Avon) sent the First Notice dated May 29, postmarked May 30, and then sent the Second Notice only two weeks later. It did not meet the thirty day mandate of Indiana Code section 9-22-1.5-3. Additionally, the auction was held less than thirty days after the Second Notice was sent, as evidenced by the date of the letter, June 13, and the date of the auction, July 9. This did not meet the mandate of Indiana Code section 9-22-1.5-4. The entire sale process, from the sending of the First Notice to the auction took only forty-two days, whereas the statute contemplates at least a sixty-day period. For these reasons, the auction must be set aside. New Avon therefore has no ownership interests in the disputed mobile homes, and MHMI’s purchase of the mobile homes from Avon Leasing is valid,” she wrote.