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Old 04-26-2009, 09:07 PM   #1
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Think your RV is your "home"? Think again.

I wanted to make all of you aware that if you are a full time RV'er and live in your RV, own no other property and consider your RV your "home", most states don't agree with you and if you have any legal problems - a bad wreck, accidentally hurt someone, or whatever and get a judgment against you, you will lose your RV if you can't afford to pay the judgment. No matter how unfair the judgment might be - the law is pretty rock solid on this point. The homestead exemption does not include RV's in most of the states. Most states consider an RV to be a "vehicle" and will allow only a couple thousand dollar's exemption for it. So be careful out there . . . check the laws for whatever state you're in.
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:33 PM   #2
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...and carry excess liability insurance. Around a $150/yr for a $1m policy.
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Old 04-27-2009, 01:12 AM   #3
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For "Gracies Mom" would you care to be more specific about the circumstance that generated you comment? Like, what state gave you the trouble. We are always liable for our RVs, no matter if we're full time or not. What exactly was special? What exactly are we to look for in each state's laws?
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Old 04-27-2009, 07:34 AM   #4
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Of course if you have a judgement against you the courts can and will take anything of value you own if you can't pay. It's always been this way and doesn't matter if you have an rv or sticks and bricks. If you can't pay, they take what you own. Course if it's financed, they can't take it cause you don't own it the bank does. What is it we are supposed to be aware of?
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Old 04-27-2009, 07:38 AM   #5
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There may be some confusion here over the term "home" vs "homestead" or the difference between a "home" and "real property". There are legal distinctions between all of those and the legalities will differ from state to state.

Generally speaking, any place you personally are currently living, be it a house, apartment, RV or tent, is your "home". That gives you and it some unique legal status as far as your civil rights are concerned, e.g. freedom for search without a warrant. But being your "home' does not automatically mean it is protected by other laws that may grant additional protections such as a "homestead exemption (a tax break available in some states) or non-eviction rights. Tax and other such laws that deal with "real property" typically contain their own definition of what is or is not covered and a vehicle such as an RV is rarely included.

The bottom line is that Gracie's Mom is correct - do not assume that your RV home has all the same protections that a fixed site house may enjoy.
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RV Roamer [Gary] View Post
T

Generally speaking, any place you personally are currently living, be it a house, apartment, RV or tent, is your "home". That gives you and it some unique legal status as far as your civil rights are concerned, e.g. freedom for search without a warrant.

Just drive that "home" into Canada or Mexico and back into the US. You will find that every nook & cranny of that "home" can be searched, many times by many people, and no warrant required.
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:26 AM   #7
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If you are involved in an accident, it is HIGHLY unlikely a court would strip you of your RV. I would expect a reasonable person to have a liabiility rider of at least $1M. Unless it can be shown you were malicious in your actions, they would most likely disallow any thing such as taking an RV.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraciesMom View Post
I wanted to make all of you aware that if you are a full time RV'er and live in your RV, own no other property and consider your RV your "home", most states don't agree with you and if you have any legal problems - a bad wreck, accidentally hurt someone, or whatever and get a judgment against you, you will lose your RV if you can't afford to pay the judgment. No matter how unfair the judgment might be - the law is pretty rock solid on this point. The homestead exemption does not include RV's in most of the states. Most states consider an RV to be a "vehicle" and will allow only a couple thousand dollar's exemption for it. So be careful out there . . . check the laws for whatever state you're in.
I am afraid that you have been fed some erroneous information. I talk to both my cousins who are practicing lawyers and one of them has license in several states and they say that an rv cannot be taken whether you live in it or not. And if it is an item you are paying on they cannot touch it, period!!!
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:11 PM   #9
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Bingo

RV Roamer (Gary) nailed it . . . it's not your "homestead" and most states do not give "homestead exemptions" to RV's . . . . so if you're putting roots down somewhere in your RV expecting a homestead exemption to offer you some protection against ANYTHING - think again. Unless you own the property it's sitting on - and even then in most states it's not protected. I just found this out recently - I always assumed that an RV, like a mobile home, if you lived in it full time was your "home" and you were protected by homestead exemptions. Just something to think about if you lease a lot somewhere or whatever. People are lawsuit happy nowadays and will sue over anything.

And MtnManLee - I hate to tell your lawyer friends this, but they're wrong . . . just check Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, Louisiana, etc., etc., etc. An RV is considered a vehicle and fair game for anyone who sues you.
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Old 04-29-2009, 11:06 AM   #10
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The sad truth is that not even a sticks and bricks house is yours any longer. The local municipalities in our area have almost routinely taken houses from people to build shopping malls, sports stadiums and anything else that they deemed worthy of public interest. As bad as that practice is, the worst part of it is that they announce the intentions, crater the property values and then want to buy the people out on the now depressed valuations.

We are quickly moving to a society where individuals don't have any rights any more and the "good of the many" is the driving factor. Actually, I see it as the good of the privileged few who sell the power of their elected office to the highest bidders. That "selling" involves selling out to the trial lawyers organizations. The root cause, IMHO, is the trials which strip people of their possessions like RVs for very questionable excuses. As stupid as our government has become, the stupidity that runs rampant in the judicial branch is at the top of the stupidity scale.
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Old 04-29-2009, 04:17 PM   #11
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In Texas, your home, your tools, and your auto (if you use it to get to and from work), may not be seized because of a legal judgement. Of course the govt (Fed, State, County, and City) voted them selves out of that ruling so they can do what they want. It's called "Emminent domain" so they can boot you out of the way for a highway, pipeline, mall, sports arena, etc.
I heard from someone pretty far up the food chain that if you homestead an RV agianst a plot of land, there may be some protection. But that was a long time ago and the legislature has been in session many times since then.
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Old 05-02-2009, 01:22 PM   #12
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The facts

Now that I'm no longer a Community Moderator and I don't have to worry about embarassing IRV2.com, I will tell you why I made this posting.

A dispicable con-man sued me and committed perjury in court as well as producing forged documents, altered emails, etc. and won a judgment against me. I've never had a legal problem in my life, have NEVER had any kind of lawsuit against me - EVER. I've never had to defend myself against lies either - which I found is pretty much impossible to do. It's a matter of "he said, she said". This man has had at least one lawsuit against him every year for the past 24 years, as well as sued other people on a regular basis, was arrested on false pretenses and grand theft charges, served probation, got arrested again for having a gun in his possession while on probation, has basically been committing fraud for the better part of his life, owes the attorney that represented him in a civil matter $60k and lived in an RV so he couldn't be found until the statute of limitations ran out and he didn't have to pay the judgment against him. He is a MASTER at playing both sides of the law.

My attorney said to just let it go - that it would cost as much for him to represent me in an appeal as it would to pay the judgment. That the man was nuts, he had represented other people against him before, and his main concern was just "winning". He said he would never act on the judgment and if he did, my rig and car were exempt in the state where this happened. My credit was strong enough to withstand one "ding" so I just let it go. I realize now how DUMB that was, but when your attorney tells you it's ok . . . you figure it's ok.

To be on the safe side, I tried to make payment arrangements but those were refused. He wanted my rig. Period. He had an old 1970 POS, couldn't afford anything newer. So he waited until I was in a state that didn't recognize a motorhome as a homestead exemption.

And it wasn't exempt in New Mexico where I was visiting last month. He got a foreign judgment against me through the state of New Mexico - and took my rig - AND my car - although I got my car back.

I went to court and I was told that in New Mexico, my rig is a "vehicle" and you are only allowed one exemption for a vehicle.

According to the judge, since New Mexico's DMV licenses motorhomes and taxes are paid to the DMV, it's a vehicle and not a home.

Why is New Mexico allowed to uphold judgments from another state and use THEIR laws instead of the laws where the judgment originated? Good question. I'm trying to figure that one out myself.

In the New Mexico Statutes, NMSA 42-10-9 1978 regarding the definition of a homestead, a homestead is referred to as a dwelling house and land occupied by the person, OR IN A DWELLING HOUSE OCCUPIED BY THE PERSON ALTHOUGH THE DWELLING IS ON LAND OWNED BY ANOTHER, PROVIDED THAT THE DWELLING IS OWNED, LEASED OR BEING PURCHASED BY THE PERSON CLAIMING THE EXEMPTION.

Nowhere in the definition for homestead does it say that it has to be a HOUSE on a piece of REAL ESTATE.

It states that it can be a dwelling house located on land owned by another, which could be construed as an RV park or any number of other pieces of land, even Bureau of Land Management land, for that matter, owned by the United States Government.


Black's Law Dictionary defines “Dwelling House” as the house OR OTHER STRUCTURE in which a person lives . . . a residence or abode.


Only the SECOND definition given in Black's states REAL ESTATE.

If you read through Black's Law dictionary and look up the definitions of STRUCTURE, the definition is “ANY CONSTRUCTION OR ANY PRODUCTION OR PIECE OF WORK ARTIFICIALLY BUILT UP OR COMPOSED OF PARTS JOINED TOGETHER IN SOME DEFINITE MANNER.


I'd say that could describe a motorhome.


If you look up the definition of abode – the definition is LIVING PLACE IMPERMANENT IN CHARACTER (Fowler v. Fowler, 156 Fla. 316, 22 So. 2D 817, 818)


If you look up the definition of residence, “a place where one lives or has his home, a person's dwelling place or place of habitation, an abode, a dwelling house.


If you extract from that definition the word “Habitation”, it's definition is “place of abode, dwelling place, residence.”


The more you research, the more you will go 'round and 'round with the definitions of dwelling, structure, abode, habitation, residence, or home.

If you look up "dwelling house" under criminal law in Black's Law Dictionary, a motorhome is listed as a "dwelling house" - even a TENT is listed as a "dwelling house". So if someone broke into my motorhome and stole everything, it would be covered in criminal law as my "dwelling house" was broken into - but the state of New Mexico can assist this man in stealing my motorhome and that's legal. Go figure.

The NMSA is more than vague on the definition of "dwelling house" obviously.

The Supreme Court act Chung Fook v. White (1924) marked the beginning of the looser American Rule that the intent of the law was more important than its text. This act, termed the soft plain meaning rule, interprets the statute according to the ordinary meaning of the language, unless the result would be cruel or absurd. I'd say the result of this interpretation was cruel AND absurd.


And in Morgan Keegan Mortgage Co. v. Candelaria, 1998-NMCA-008, SS7, 124 N.M. 405, 951 P.2d 1066, as stated in my Motion toRelease, quote, “The purpose of a homestead exemption is to benefit the debtor.”


The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Code defines a motorhome as a vehicle and it has to be licensed as a vehicle. Yes it does. You can drive it so it has to be licensed as a vehicle. But you can't live in a motorcycle, a car or a truck. (Well you could, but they weren't made for living in, as a motorhome IS.)


And the same applies to California, Colorado, Arizona, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, Nevada and many other states that have updated their statutes to recognize the fact that people DO live in motorhomes, that motorhomes are their primary residence, sometimes purchased with entire life savings, and are due the homestead exemption.

I've spoken to Good Sam and they have been in the process of trying to get legislation changed in ALL states, but that won't help my situation.

I have the choice of paying this conman, or letting the RV go. He'll get less if I let the RV go because it's not worth that much at a Sheriff's auction and that's what I'm probably going to do. But I'm going to fight this with everything I've got before I do either.

My new passion in life is to get this legislation changed in EVERY state so no one else has to lose their RV. I'm in the process of a letter writing campaign to every state that does not recognize RV's as exempt if it is the only home of someone that does not own other property.

And when I get back to the west, I'll be shopping for another RV. Hey, I wanted a new one anyway . . . .
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Old 05-02-2009, 01:53 PM   #13
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Gracie,
That just plain sucks!
I hope you find a good lawyer that can help you out in this.
Good luck.

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Old 05-02-2009, 04:52 PM   #14
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I think I would make sure the RV couldn't be moved before I let the jerk get it.
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