The Mobile Homes Act 2013 replaced the previous one, dated 1983, and was greeted as a long overdue reform of the park home sector. Not only was it intended to raise standards throughout the industry but to provide greater protection for residents. Sadly, its title was not changed, with the somewhat old-fashioned term – mobile home – being used rather than park home.
One of the main concerns raised by Parliament in discussions about the new legislation was the issue of “sale blocking” by some park owners, where residents were hindered or in some cases prevented from selling their homes. This happened as a result of the park owner having the right to interview the prospective buyer and then (in some cases) persuade them that a new home they had for sale might suit them better than the older one they were buying from an outgoing resident.
So, from May 2013, a new law was introduced which resulted in some major changes to the procedures for selling (or gifting) a park home.
Roundstone Park near Horsham, Sussex, seems to have more than its fair share of residents who are very talented gardeners. The park holds a gardening competition each year
The existing home owner who had a written agreement with the park owner, which started before 26 May 2013, had to notify the park owner that he/she proposed to sell or gift the home, on site, and assign the agreement. The agreement is a document signed by both the park owner and the resident setting out the terms of the resident’s right to live on the park. Should the park owner object to the proposed sale, he must serve a refusal notice on the occupier within 21 days from the date when the park owner first received notice of the sale. If that is not done within 21 days, the sale or gift of the home will be assumed to have been approved.
In a case where the agreement being assigned started after 26 May 2013 or had been assigned since then, it is regarded as a new agreement. This means that the occupier does not have to seek the approval of the park owner if he/she wishes to sell their home.
However, the owner must notify the park owner as soon as possible after the sale and the assignment of the agreement has taken place.
In either case (i.e. old or new agreement), a home can only be gifted to a member of the existing occupier’s family.
There’s also a major change in the way commission on the sale is paid to the park owner. Previously, it was paid by the seller, but under the new rules the incoming resident is responsible for paying the commission to the park owner. It’s important to remember when the sale price of a home is negotiated that the seller will be paid only 90 per cent of that price, and the buyer must pay the 10 per cent to the park owner.
The whole buying and selling procedure under this new legislation has become very complex with a number of forms to be completed. The park owner is not allowed to have any involvement in the sale so we’d recommend employing a solicitor to make sure everything is done correctly.
It’s not hard to introduce a few individual touches to personalise a home. This is at Eastbourne Heights
The Government has produced Fact Sheets on Buying a Park Home and Selling/Gifting a Park Home, and these include the associated forms that have to be completed. You can download these here: www.gov.uk/government/collections/park-homes.
Another change brought in by this legislation is to the site licensing regime. All residential park home estates have to have a site licence – issued by the local authority – which sets out things like the number of homes allowed on the land; services and amenities; spacing; footpaths; health and safety, etc.
Under the new legislation the local authority can charge an annual fee to the park owner for this licence, the objective being that the income raised in this way could be used to fund police inspections on the park. These inspections will make sure that the conditions laid down in the site licences are complied with. Should a resident feel that conditions on their park are not up to site licence standards (he can check this because the site licence must be displayed on the park), he can inform the local authority, which will investigate and, if necessary, require the site owner to remedy the breach. The courts will be able to impose unlimited fines on those found guilty of non-compliance.
The new Act also gives the Government the ability to introduce a ‘fit and proper person’ test for park owners and managers. This only applies in Wales at the moment but may be introduced in the future if it’s deemed necessary.
Park home legislation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland differs slightly from that in England. For more information visit www.lease-advice.org. and search for ‘mobile homes’.