Park Home Ownerships in United Kingdom
As a rule, a written agreement with the park (or site) owner will list your rights and obligations. The record sets out:
- Charges, services, and general rules to follow.
- Minimum legal rights and obligations (including the right to keep a park home on its pitch).
The owners (or occupiers) of park (mobile) homes have a period of twenty eight (28) days to review the details in an agreement before they need to sign it.
In most cases, the owner of a park (mobile) home owns the actual residence, but not the ground it sits on. Thus, park homes are not attached to the ground (in a physical manner).
Even without a written agreement, the Mobile Homes Act 1983 contains detailed guidance about the rights and obligations for park home residents in England.
Furthermore, the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) also provides free and independent advice for residents of park (mobile) homes.
Keeping a Park Home in Good Condition
Some of the most important obligations for people in park home ownership or occupation, include:
- Carrying out general repairs and maintenance to the structure (as and when it becomes necessary).
- Making sure the outside of the home and pitch are clean and tidy (including fences or outbuildings located on the pitch).
Licences for Privately Owned Sites
Sites owned on a private basis will need a ‘licence to operate’ from the local council authority. Furthermore, the park owner needs to display the licence in a prominent position.
As a rule, a site licence issued to a privately owned site will set out certain conditions and restrictions, including:
- Health and safety guidelines
- How many homes can be in the park
- Services and amenities
Making a complaint to the park owner resolves most issues relating to poor conditions in the park. Nonetheless, you may need to contact your local council if you are unable to find an informal solution.
Another section explains how to solve a residential property dispute if mediation fails by applying to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).
Note: Living on a park site with no planning permission for residential use means you could be forced to leave.
Renting a Park (mobile) Home
If you are paying rent to a landlord for living in a park home, you will have a rental contract (even though it does need to be in writing).
In some cases, there may not be a written contract. As a rule, the tenant can stay for a period up to one (1) year from the date they moved in – even if no written agreement exists between the two parties.
Tenants Rights about Eviction
What if your landlord tries to force you out of the park home you are staying in (e.g. through eviction)? If this happens, tenants who are renting on a ‘protected site’ will have more rights to stay in the property.
There are certain rules your landlord must follow when trying to evict you. But, as a general rule, a tenant’s right to stay will depend on:
- What is stated in the rental contract.
- Whether the home counts as a dwelling house (meaning tenancy laws provide you with extra rights).
To qualify as a dwelling house, the park (mobile) home must be a permanent residence (the place where you live most (or all) of the time) and:
- Be connected to mains electricity or mains water supply.
- A substantial size that you cannot move in one piece (e.g. drive it away or tow it away yourself).
Note: Protected sites are mobile home parks with planning permission for residents to live there throughout the whole year. Hence, a holiday park would not usually count as a protected site.
Contents of a Written Contract
The main purpose of having a written contract is for it to state how long the tenant can live in the home. But, the landlord can still ask the tenant to leave during the stated time, in cases whereby:
- The contract states that the landlord can request the tenant to leave with four (4) weeks of notice.
- The tenant breaches the terms stated (rules of the contract) and the wording states that the owner can ask the tenant to leave as a consequence.
Once a contract ends, landlords can ask their tenants to leave, providing they give 4 weeks’ notice. Owners can ask the court for an ‘eviction order‘ if their tenants fail to leave. The court order would force a tenant to leave the residence.
Different Types of Tenancies
The date that you moved into a park home and started paying rent, will determine what kind of tenancy you have. It will either be:
- A regulated tenancy (e.g. you moved in and started paying rent before the 15th of January 1989).
- An assured or assured shorthold tenancy (e.g. you moved in and started paying rent since the 15th of January 1989).
Note: Another section explains more about the different tenancy types and the procedures landlords need to follow for eviction.
Where to Get Expert Advice
It is not uncommon for tenancy rights to be complicated issues. Always seek legal advice if your landlord treats you in an unfair way.
Community Legal Advice Helpline
Tel: 0845 345 4 345
Leasehold Advisory Service
Tel: 020 7832 2525
Shelter Housing Advice Helpline
Tel: 0808 800 4444
Age UK Advice Helpline
Tel: 0800 169 6565
Fees and Charges
Paying a Pitch Fee
The ‘pitch fee’ is a charge that goes to the park owner. The payment covers the rental of the land that the park home sits on. If the park owner changes the pitch fee to an annual payment they would need to give you at least 28 days of notice (in writing).
Note: The owner of the park home or park site can use a housing tribunal to determine the pitch fee if there is a disagreement.
Electricity, Gas, LPG
Ofgem is the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets. They set out the amount that park owners can charge for supplying gas and electricity to park (mobile) homes on their land.
As a result, park owners cannot charge home owners extra for gas and electricity on top of the amount that they paid for it themselves (including connection charges).
Likewise, park owners must charge the same amount that the water company charges them (plus a reasonable administration fee).
There are no specific regulations relating to charges for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the United Kingdom.
Selling or Gifting Park Homes
Selling a Park Home
If you sell your park home, the site owner would get a commission of the final selling price (up to a maximum of 10%). Furthermore, you would need to assign the pitch agreement to the new owner, and:
- Inform the park owner about the sale of your park home.
- Instruct the buyer to complete a ‘Notice of Assignment form’ (used to pay commission to park owners).
- Provide certain information to the buyer (e.g. commission paid, pitch fees).
Note: The park owner would need to apply to a housing tribunal if they object to you trying to sell your home.
Park Home Inheritance Rules
If the owner of a park home dies, another person can carry on using the same agreement without the need for approval from the park owner to live there, providing they are (either):
- A spouse (e.g. husband, wife, or civil partner).
- A family member (living with the owner when they died).
Note: The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government provides detailed information for park home residents in England, and their rights and obligations under the Mobile Homes Act 1983.
Giving Away a Park Home
You must use the ‘Notice of proposed gift form‘ if you want to give your park home to another person (e.g. to a family member). The form provides the park owner with proof about your relationship to the family member.
Making Improvements to the Park
If a park owner plans to make any major improvements, they would need to:
- Inform you if it is going to affect the pitch fee.
- Provide at least 28 days of notice (in writing) and give information on how to comment on the plans.
As a rule, park improvements can still go ahead even if the majority of residents disagree with the details. Also, park owners may be able to recover improvement costs by increasing the pitch fee.
Note: Campsites can stay open all summer  in England as local councils show support for businesses who set up temporary ‘pop-up’ campsites without having to get planning permission.
Park Owner Responsibilities
When it comes to making general repairs and improvements for the site, park owners will be responsible for:
- Keeping common areas in good condition (e.g. shared pathways).
- Repairing bases (e.g. the areas where park homes sit).
- Maintaining services that they supply to homes or pitches (e.g. sewerage).
Park Home Residents Associations
Setting up a ‘qualifying’ residents’ association means it can represent the home owners in a mobile home park. The residents would have certain rights, and the park owners have greater responsibilities (e.g. consulting with the association before they make improvements).
Furthermore, park owners would need to give at least 28 days of notice before making any changes. They must also consider any concerns expressed by the association before making the changes.
How to Set Up a Qualifying Residents’ Association
An association needs to include at least 50% of the home owners in the park. But, it cannot include any residents who are renting their park homes. The records and documents you would need to keep, include:
- A constitution
- Any other rules that are relevant to the residents’ association
- An updated list of members
Following that, you would need to elect (all):
The role of the association’s chairman, secretary, and the treasurer is making administrative decisions. Thus, the members would cast their vote on all other decisions.
If the park owner ‘acknowledges’ the association, there would be no need to apply to a tribunal (e.g. force them to acknowledge the association).
Residents’ associations can still have meetings if they fail to meet the qualifying conditions. But, park owners do not need to discuss all issues (e.g. about management and park operations).
Settling Disputes at Park Homes
The final decisions made by housing tribunals also relate to disagreements between home owners and park site owners. They are legally binding and used to settle residential property disputes, such as:
- A change to the pitch fee
- Changes made to a residence agreement
- Moving a park home
- Transferring park home ownership to someone else
- Damages and repairs at the site
Note:You should ignore any written agreements saying you must use an arbitrator. Use a housing tribunal instead.
Clamping Down on Rogue Site Owners and Managers
Official statistics suggest around 85,000 people are living in owner occupied mobile homes at more than 2,000 sites across England.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced new measures in July 2021 to help protect the residents who live in mobile homes.
They said they want to every park home resident get an “affordable place to live that is safe and secure”.
The number of rogue site owners and managers is ‘relatively’ small. Even so, introducing stricter rules will:
- Empower local councils to tackle bad practices and incidents of exploitation of residents who live on mobile home sites, including:
- Anti-social behaviour displayed by site owners.
- Failing to address complaints filed by residents.
- Fit and proper person test introduced to ensure site managers are suitable.
- Provide several new enforcement powers for use against site owners or managers who fail to comply with the new stricter rules.
Note: Mobile home site managers and owners need to prove they a suitable for the role by passing the new ‘fit and proper person’.
Passing a Fit and Proper Person Test
As part of the new measures introduced to better protect mobile home residents, local councils will judge applicants based on (both):
- Their past behaviour.
- The behaviour of any associates related to the job.
Assuming they pass the test, councils will place them on a fit and proper person register. Hence, councils also get powers to choose a suitable replacement – if the applicant fails to meet the new requirements.
Furthermore, operating a mobile home site without having a registered fit and proper manager in place will be an offence. The same applies to anyone who provides false information in their application.
From the 1st of July 2021, councils will be receiving applications from site owners who must submit their applications. The deadline for submitting an application is the 1st of October 2021.
Important: Breaching the new rules for mobile home site owners and managers can result in a court appearance and an unlimited fine.