Static Caravans; Legal Aspects and Contract Matters

Static Caravans: Legal Aspects and Contract Matters


Posted by Sell My Group in Buying a Holiday Home, November 4, 2019

Buying a static caravan is a big investment for many people.  It also means that you are entering into a series of binding legal terms.  For that reason, it always makes sense to look carefully at any paperwork you are required to sign.  Remember that you can always ask for legal advice if you are not sure about terms and conditions you are asked to sign for, too.

f sticve will consider what you should be looking for in a contract when buying, as well as what rights you will have once you take ownership.

However, this guide offers general advice only.  It should not be used in the place of formal legal advice.  All holiday park contracts are different, and if you have any concerns over what you may be asked to sign, always ensure to ask for help from a solicitor or legal representative.  This guide serves as an introduction to holiday park contracts and what you should bear in mind before and after signing.

Understanding Your Contract

Your contract should be easy for you to understand, however, there is no harm in asking for help.  What you should know right away is that your contract with a park operator is legally binding.  This means if you breach any of the terms expected of you, legal action can be taken, or you may be evicted from the park altogether.  Please take a look at our guide to park evictions for more information on this side of matters.

At the same time, you will be able to hold your park operator to the terms they provide.  This means you have a legal right to make a complaint if you feel they are in breach.  Right away, as stated, a park should give you a contract which you can easily read and comprehend.  If you have any doubts over whether or not a contract is fair, ask to show the details to a solicitor.  All parks will be happy for you to take your time.  After all, it is important to them that you understand and accept the terms they produce!

As well as the main agreement, do ask to see all terms and conditions before signing.  You will not normally need to ask for these, as all documentation should be available right away.  Once again, you have the legal right to take all the time you need to read and understand the terms.

Things to Ask About Your Contract

You are, naturally, going to have a few questions you’d like to ask about your contract and agreements with your holiday park.  Hopefully, most of the questions you need to ask will be covered in the contract you sign.  If not, always be ready to ask for more support.

Here are just a few questions you should be ready to ask if details aren’t made clear to you right away:

  • What are the main rules of the park?
  • How much will I need to pay for my pitch?
  • How much will I need to pay for my caravan outright?
  • How much will I need to pay for energy and tariffs?
  • Can I let my static caravan?
  • How old is my caravan, and will it need any maintenance?
  • Can I insure my caravan and pitch privately, or can the park arrange this for me?
  • What are my restrictions?
  • What notice will the park give me if they need to modify the area, pitch or lodging?
  • When will the park be open to stay at?
  • Does the park have arrangements for cold weather or winter maintenance?
  • Where will my caravan be based?
  • What can I expect in terms of caravan depreciation?
  • Will I be able to sell my caravan at a later date?
  • Can I buy on finance?
  • Will I be able to set up decking and skirting?
  • What other fees are expected of me?
  • How do I raise a problem with the park or pitch if I need to?

When addressing a contract, make sure to look for any terms or conditions which could introduce extra fees or costs.  You should also look for full clarity.  If there is room for doubt anywhere within your contract, do not sign it.  Ask for clarity, and make sure that a legal representative takes a look at the agreement on your behalf.

You should also be careful to look for a balance in freedoms for you and the park operator.  Will a park operator be able to exercise certain measures at little notice to you?  Be careful when looking at contracts that aren’t clear on when notice is given to you.  It is highly rare that you will come across agreements of this nature, as all contracts are legally authorised.

However, you do have the right to refuse to sign a contract and to be bound by their terms.

What is the Code of Practice?

At holiday parks which are overseen by the National Caravan Council, or the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, you will be protected to some extent by a code of practice.  This code protects your rights when buying, siting and selling.  Ultimately, in addition to contractual protection, your sale and treatment will be regulated by an over-reaching document.  However, this isn’t always in place at holiday parks across the country, so do make sure you get in touch with either the NCC or the BH/HPA if you have any concerns.

However, your own legal representative should be able to give you clarity and peace of mind on any contracts you are faced with. Don’t worry – as nothing is set in stone until you sign the paperwork.

What is the Sale of Goods Act, and How Does it Affect Static Holiday Caravans?

The Sale of Goods Act is UK legal consumer protection, and it is in place to make sure that everything you buy is as you expect it to be.  Anything you buy that is protected by this legislation should be of ‘satisfactory quality’, and should have no restrictions for use.

In very rare cases, you may be able to invoke the Sale of Goods Act if you feel that the caravan you have bought falls below your expectations.  There are a few factors which could affect the quality of your caravan, however, which you can reasonably expect.  For example, if your static holiday caravan is being built and delivered from off-site, there may be a few issues caused in transit.  If you are buying second-hand, too, there may be a few problems associated with ‘wear and tear’.

However, wherever possible, make sure to inspect and check over your caravan before you buy it!  Do bear in mind that the Act won’t apply to any wear and tear damage, and you can’t invoke it if you are buying a caravan on finance.  If you’ve misused your caravan or have caused accidental damage, you won’t be able to claim through the Act.  Never repair a caravan if you feel you can raise a complaint, and certainly don’t leave it more than five years to make a complaint.

What Are Small Claims?

If you are entitled to compensation as a result of faults or contractual disputes, you can follow the Small Claims process.  A small claim is that which covers up to £10,000 worth of damage or remedy.  If you feel that you have suffered as a result of poor service or a faulty system, you should be ready to negotiate with your park operator.  It is never worth pursuing legal action right away!  All parks should be willing to discuss any concerns you may have, and to redress and remedy them if they are at fault.

You may be able to consider a small claim if negotiations have broken down.  You should also ask your solicitor if you have grounds to pursue compensation.  Where possible, try to make arrangements with your holiday park.  Legal action is something no one wants to have to go through.  After all, you may not even be entitled to compensation if you don’t follow reasonable process to resolve your issues in the first place.

Trust your gut instinct, but do reach out to your park operator and legal advice for help and support.

Conclusion

Static holiday caravans are covered by lots of laws, and you are protected to a huge extent as a buyer.  However, always take time to closely understand your contracts and anything required of you by law.  You have the right to take all the time you need to read terms and conditions expected of you!

If all else fails, reach out to your operator, as well as any legal advisors or solicitors in your local area. Don’t ever sign a contract unless you are completely happy.  You should also take the time to reach out and negotiate problems amicably with your park before you consider any legal action.

For further reading see our article on What to Remember When Buying a Holiday Home’.