The Top Four Signs of A Troubled Mobile Home Park Sewer System

When you own a mobile home park you are in charge of a large water and sewer system – whether you like that or not. That's because virtually all mobile home park water and sewer lines are on your private property and the utility provider has no responsibility over them. Although most mobile home parks have little problem with this issue – except for the occasional water leak or sewer clog – there are certain cases of mobile home parks that have extreme sewer problems and smart buyers will want to get price reductions to accommodate the work needed to fix them or avoid them altogether. So what are the top four signs of a troubled mobile home park sewer system?

#1: Ask a resident

You will be amazed at what you can learn by simply rolling down the window on your car and asking a random tenant standing in the yard "hey, I'm looking at moving here – are there any problems with the park?" and then getting ready for an education like no other. If the park has sewer back-up issues you will hear all about them including frequency and what parts of the park are affected. Of course, you will also learn about flooding, management issues, and plenty more.

#2: An abundance of missing sewer caps

When a sewer system has plentiful clogs on a recurring basis, the rooto-rooter company is faced with removing various sewer caps, cabling the line, and then putting the caps back. And when you do it over and over then out of sheer laziness or oversight some number of them end up on the ground and not screwed back on the pipes. You will see this with a simple walk about the park where the sewer main lines run. But I've seen parks that were so screwed up you could see the caps missing from your car window.

#3: Mysterious patches of "white tickertape"

I'm not talking about the stuff that rains down on the Superbowl champions at a parade, but a different type of expression of excitement. You see, when there's a sewage overflow on the ground a byproduct is millions of tiny pieces of toilet paper that stick like epoxy glue to every blade of grass and piece of concrete. It's a definite telltale sign that's hard to miss when you walk around the park in any area where the sewer lines run – although you can even see it in the street on a park with giant problems where the sewage hits the gutter before it is contained.

#4: Talk to city hall

Whenever there's a sewage back-up, the residents call city hall – even when they know the city has nothing to do with the problem and will do nothing to fix it. They hope that by calling the inspector they will cause the city to force faster action – or just punish the landlord for raising their rent, etc. As a result, simply asking the city "does this park have a history of sewer issues" will either result in the answer "oh yeah, all the time" or "no, I've never heard of one". And that's going to be absolutely true.

Why these are the top four initial signs

When you are doing diligence on any mobile home park, it is essential that you get honest information. And with all four of these methods there is no opportunity for the park owner to "manipulate" the data by paying somebody a "commission" to tell you an untruth or somehow exploit the buyers access to information. The seller has absolutely no control over these four sources of information nor do they expect you to know about them.


Knowing how to do great due diligence is the hallmark of the successful mobile home park buyer. Benjamin Franklin once said "diligence is the mother of good luck" and that's as true today as it was in 1776. If you want to learn more about how to do proper diligence on a mobile home park – as well as how to identify, evaluate, negotiate, finance, turn-around and operate them – then consider attending our next Mobile Home Park Investor's Boot Camp. It's 100% live yet 100% virtual so there's no travel time or cost. It's Q&A throughout and the instructor is Frank Rolfe, the guy the New York Times calls "the human encyclopedia of all things mobile home park" as well as part of the 7th largest ownership of mobile home parks in the U.S.

Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe has been an investor in mobile home parks for almost 30 years, and has owned and operated hundreds of mobile home parks during that time. He is currently ranked, with his partner Dave Reynolds, as the 5th largest mobile home park owner in the U.S., with around 20,000 lots spread out over 25 states. Along the way, Frank began writing about the industry, and his books, coupled with those of his partner Dave Reynolds, evolved into a course and boot camp on mobile home park investing that has become the leader in this niche of commercial real estate.