If you own a park home, there are specific laws which protect you and the site you stay at. Laws set up by the British government came into effect in 1983, however, they have since seen a major update. British MPs agreed that there needs to be more power given to homeowners and sellers. Therefore, they brought in the Mobile Homes Act of 2013, and both property owners and park owners need to pay attention to the laws it sets. Don’t worry, however – as many of the laws and adjustments are there to make things easier for you!
In this quick guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about the Mobile Homes Act of 2013. How does it affect you as a park homeowner? Read on to learn all about the changes in the law, and do make sure to read our full guide on the rights you have when selling a park home.
Most of the laws took effect in England as of May 2013. However, some changes to site licenses came through in April 2014. It is worth noting that different laws and guidelines apply across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The best place to read about the Mobile Homes Act 2013 online is via the government’s official website. They have a full section on park homes in England here, which offers you various guides and documents that you can download for free.
Essentially, the new laws brought in by the Mobile Homes Act 2013 updated a lot of older and outdated legislation. This means that park homeowners now have more protection and greater flexibility when it comes to selling homes. It also means that park owners themselves need to obey a new set of regulations. This mainly concerns the way that parks can obtain licences, and the rules they set for homeowners.
Many people still feel that changes in the law weren’t all that necessary. Many homeowners were happy with the terms and conditions they signed. Meanwhile, some park owners felt that the new restrictions on sales were equally unnecessary. However, many homeowners now have a lot more freedom when it comes to when they can sell, and who they can sell to. The laws have changed when it comes to gifting park homes, too.
We go into more detail in our full guide linked above, but these changes are easy to summarise. Basically, the Mobile Homes Act 2013 states that park site owners no longer have to give consent to sales going ahead. The rules differ a little if you bought your home before or after the 26th May 2013, however, the idea remains the same.
The laws also state that site owners can no longer knowingly attempt to restrict sales or prevent specific sales from going ahead. However, when it comes to the sale of homes bought before the 26th May 2013, site owners still have the right to object within 21 days before plans go ahead. Gifting, too, changed in a similar way.
People who disagree with the new laws may argue that contracts between sites and homeowners were already honest and above board. However, if nothing else, property owners now have more say over what is legally theirs.
As a result of the new laws, park site owners needed to completely rewrite their existing rules and regulations. The laws state that beyond the 3rd February 2015, all rules before that point became null and void. That’s why, if you own a home and have seen changes in park rules in the last few years, you may have received more documentation.
The Mobile Homes Act 2013 also brought in changes which affected site licenses. A site license is a legal document which a park owner needs to show what they are using land for. Land that a park owner uses for mobile homes is then called a ‘regulated’ site.
Regulated sites are those which offer park homes for residential living. It is worth remembering that these terms don’t apply to holiday homes! The differences between residential and holiday properties should be fairly obvious, but the main difference is that you can’t stay in a holiday home throughout the year.
As of April 2014, English site owners found that they might have to pay fees to obtain licenses. How much they pay is down to the local authority. This means that many park owners found they needed to start paying extra costs which they may not have budgeted for!
Local authorities can also choose to refuse a site licence on new grounds. While application for a site licence was never a guarantee, authorities can now refuse potential site owners if they feel they are not ‘suitable’ to own one. This has, in some cases, made things more difficult for people who want to set up residential parks. Government has also made sure that there are ‘tests’ which authorities can use to judge this.
The new laws also state that local authorities can charge extra fees and rates to parks each year. Previously, site owners didn’t have to pay annual costs. However, again, these new changes are under control of local authorities, meaning that charges can and probably will vary. However, there is a scale which helps to determine yearly costs.
This all means that site owners now need to pay set fees and charges which didn’t exist before. Therefore, failure to pay fees may even result in licenses being revoked!
Before that happens, authorities should serve park owners with a ‘compliance notice’, which means that if they feel owners are in breach of conditions, they can offer a warning. If owners don’t make the changes that a notice demands, they could face court prosecution and fines up to £5,000. Park owners will have the right to a tribunal depending on circumstances.
Pitch fees are, of course, what park homeowners must pay to stay at a residential park. These costs can cover things such as local authority rates and energy rates. However, the Mobile Homes Act of 2013 made further changes to how pitch fees work in England. It is another new piece of legislation that site owners need to adjust to!
Changes in the law now mean site owners should warn homeowners clearly if pitch fees are going to change. MPs felt that old laws only implied charges would increase each year. However, sites now need to let homeowners know, in writing, what they can expect from changes to pitch fees for the year ahead.
Park homeowners and site operators previously assumed charges would increase due to the Retail Prices Index, which can inflate from year to year. However, the laws now mean site owners need to give property dwellers full guidance on what they can expect. This is one change to UK legislation which, again, will appeal to homeowners – but which might make things more awkward for site operators.
If you are a park owner, you must now obey all laws set under the Mobile Homes Act 2013. If you applied for a site licence after the laws came into effect, you will have no adjusting to do. As for homeowners, the changes mean that you will get more information on fee changes, and that you don’t have to get site owners involved in sales or gifting of homes.
These changes, as mentioned, weren’t all met with praise. Some of the laws, such as the licensing changes, may make things more difficult for site owners. While the law changes are welcome in the sense that they aim to make things fairer, some worry that too much power lies with local authorities.
However, authorities will still need to work to set guidelines! The government’s ‘tests’ will help them to judge whether or not site owners are fit for a licence. Some prospective owners may now find it more difficult to apply for residential park status, but on the other hand, this may also help to protect the interests, and safety, of those moving in.
As an independent resource for park home sellers and buyers, we have your best interests at heart. However, we must all make sure that we work within the law! The Mobile Home Act 2013 has made big changes to English sites, but for many people, things will now actually be a lot easier.
However, we do understand that some site owners and property owners will have split opinions on the new laws. In any case, please always make sure to read your contracts carefully, and to ensure you understand when you are in and outside of the law.