Research Report

Park Homes Research Report: The impact of a change in the Maximum Park Home Sale Commission

Discussion document

September 2023

Submission date closed 17th November 2023

Everyone is invited to create their own personal response form and submit it if they wish, use the link herewith, complete the form and send it to; 

Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities,3rd Floor (NE). Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

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  1. The purpose of this document is to aide participants in discussions about the

recommendations in the park homes research report – “The impact of a change in

the maximum park home sale commission (2022).”

  1. Park (mobile) homes provide accommodation to approximately 160,000 people in

England. Approximately 80% of residents are over 65 years. When a person

purchases a mobile home on a site, they do not purchase an interest in the land.

They will instead have a licence to occupy the pitch on which their home will sit.

When they sell their home, the site owner will be legally entitled to a commission

of up to 10% of the sale price. The exact rate a resident must pay the site owner

should be set out in the written agreement given to them when they first move

onto the site.

  1. Site owners and residents have different views about the commission and what it

is for. Residents have been calling for the commission to be abolished or reduced

while site owners have argued for it to be maintained. In 2002 research into the

economics of the industry, and other reviews and consultations since then, all

concluded that the commission rate should be maintained.

  1. To ensure ongoing discussions about the commission are based on facts and

accurate data, the Government commissioned research in 2021 to collect data

about the sector. This was to enable an assessment to be made of any impacts

on both residents and site owners of a change to the rate of commission.

  1. The final research report published in June 2022, concluded that there is a high

level of dissatisfaction with some site owners’ behaviour in managing parks. It also

highlighted the complex relationship between the mobility of residents and the

profitability of parks. To address those issues, the report made four

recommendations;

  1. To strengthen the professionalism of park operators;
  2. To consider whether a national enforcement body could ensure a more

consistent and higher quality of park operation;

  1. To explore and clarify the rationale of the commission; and that,
  2. There should be no reduction to the commission rate without financial support,

which should be independent of residents, for smaller parks in particular.

  1. The report’s recommendations have direct implications for residents, site owners

and local authorities. Before publishing the government’s response to the report,

we want to discuss those recommendations with and seek the views of those

directly affected.

  1. To have a structured and focussed discussion, the approach we are taking is for

the recommendations with the strongest links to be considered together. Part 1 of

this document therefore focusses on recommendations (a) and (b) as they are

about professionalising the sector and enforcement. Part 2 focusses on

recommendations (c) and (d) which both relate to the commission payment.

  1. In each part, we have briefly summarised the main issues and asked a series of

questions. Also attached are summaries of residents’ rights (Annex A) and local

authority licensing and enforcement powers (Annex B), as a reminder of what

already exists in legislation.

  1. Each stakeholder group can respond to all the questions or to as many as they

are able to. While the questions are included under the relevant topics in the

document, these have also been collated in the Response Form (Annex C) for you

to complete. We want you to discuss the issues with your members, collate all

their responses and send one combined return for your stakeholder group. The

deadline for responses to be submitted is 17 November 2023.

10.Later this year, we will organise a roundtable meeting for stakeholders to share

and discuss their responses. The final responses will then feed into the

Government’s response to the report.

PART 1: RECOMMENDATIONS ON PROFESSIONALISM AND

ENFORCEMENT

Section 1: Summary of residents’ concerns and the researchers’ recommendations

11.The experiences of living in park homes varied among residents. While some

were satisfied with the social and community aspects of living in a park home,

they expressed disenchantment that their financial obligations to the site owner,

such as the payment of pitch fees, failed to translate into improved site

conditions or amenities.

12.Residents’ dissatisfaction with the experience of living on a park home site was

often framed in relation to the relationships they held with site owners and park

managers and day-to-day maintenance of sites. Residents complained of poor

site maintenance, often with reference to the same large-scale park owner and

regular pitch fee increases were often unjustified given the lack of investment

into site amenities and management.

13.Many residents considered that their site was managed by a “rogue owner” and

many site owners were perceived to have poor visibility to and communication

with residents. Some residents who were previously satisfied with the

management and maintenance of their site, found things changed when the

ownership of the park changed hands. Recent experiences were causing

significant distress and leading them to reconsider their housing arrangements.

14.In summary, there was a high level of dissatisfaction among residents with some

site operators’ behaviour in managing parks. While recent legislative changes

were considered a positive step towards an appropriately regulated sector,

residents felt further improvements were needed to ensure that the sector

worked fairly for both operators and residents. The report recommended

strengthening the professionalism of park operators to help improve their

behaviour.

  1. Residents also had some concerns about the effectiveness of the current

enforcement regime. They felt that the enforcement of breaches of site licence

conditions by individual local authorities was not effective. The report

recommended that further consideration should be given to whether a national

enforcement body could ensure a more consistent and higher quality of park

operation.

  1. In addition to concerns raised during the research about the management of

parks, other concerns about bullying, harassment and intimidation by some site

owners are often raised directly with this Department. They include instances of

site owners speaking harshly to residents, threatening to claim costs against

residents if they exercise their rights at the tribunal and making written demands

for payment of monies not owed. Other concerns raised with this Department are

about the sale of homes on land with no planning permission.

17.These issues appear to be causing great concern among a growing number of

residents. Stakeholders may want to bear them in mind and consider them as

part of this discussion about rights and enforcement.

Section 2: Background to existing legislation

18.To give some context, we will briefly set out what the problems in the sector

have generally been since the 1960s and what legislation was initially introduced

to address them. This will be followed by a brief outline of reforms that have

since taken place to improve residents’ rights and local authorities’ enforcement

powers respectively.

Problems in the sector

19.Weak enforcement legislation – In 1960 the government introduced the Caravan

Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 (1960 Act) to tackle the problem of

caravan sites being set up in the wrong places and with poor site conditions. The

1960 Act required a site to have planning permission (to determine the use of the

land) and a site licence (to ensure the site was maintained). The 1960 Act did

not provide local authorities with strong enforcement powers which meant they

were unable to carry out effective enforcement in most cases. This contributed to

the increase in unprofessional site owners in the sector. Where enforcement

action was taken, the fines imposed by the courts were so low that the site

owners preferred to pay the fine than carry out the required repairs to the site.

20.The Caravan Sites Act 1968 was later introduced to address increasing

problems around harassment and illegal eviction. The fines that could be

imposed by the Courts were however very low and did not act as much of a

deterrent to unprofessional site owners.

21.The Mobile Homes Act 1983 (1983 Act) gave residents a wide range of rights

and implied certain terms into every agreement between a site owner and

resident. It later became clear that the 1983 Act did not offer effective protection

for residents in certain aspects. Unprofessional site operators took unfair

advantage of this to financially exploit residents through practices such as

blocking sales and forcing residents to sell their home to the site owner for a

fraction of the price they could otherwise have achieved. There was also a lack

of transparency with how site rules were made which enabled some site owners

to impose rules which gave them an unfair financial advantage. The process for

reviewing pitch fees also lacked transparency which enabled some site owners

to include ineligible costs in the proposed new pitch fee.

22.Lack of advice for residents – The sector has increasingly been marketed by site

owners as idyllic, suitable for retirement purposes and that legal advice was not

required when buying a home. Most purchasers bought their homes without

seeking any form of advice to understand their rights and obligations. One

reason for not doing so was the lack of an independent organisation offering that

service. Some site owners also used bullying and threating behaviour and when

disputes arose, the cases could only be determined by the courts. With quite

significant court costs, being older and living in remote areas, most residents

understandably chose to have a quiet life and avoid any further confrontation

with the site owner.

Reforms

23.In 1998 the Government set up a Working Party to consider the operation of

existing controls and make recommendations on what changes, if any, were felt

to be desirable to achieve a fair and workable balance between the needs and

interests of park owners and home owners. The Working Party’s report ,

published in 2000, made several recommendations many of which were

accepted by the Government and started a series of major reforms to the sector.

24.These included the 2002 research into the economics of the industry and the

commission paid on the sale of a home; amendments to the implied terms in

2006; the transfer of dispute resolution from the courts to the tribunals in 2011;

the introduction of the Mobile Homes Act 2013; and giving the Leasehold

Advisory Service (LEASE) the additional role of providing residents with free

independent advice.

25.In 2017, a review of the effectiveness of the 2013 Act concluded that the

changes introduced in 2013 had been effective in bringing about improvements

in the sector. There was evidence however that some site owners were still

abusing and exploiting residents. In its response to the review, the Government

made further commitments to improve the rights of residents and give local

authorities additional powers. Most of those commitments, including carrying out

research in 2021 in relation to the 10% commission, have now been

implemented.

Section 3: Research Recommendations

Professionalism of park operators

26.During the 2021 research, residents raised concerns about some site owners.

While recent legislative changes were considered a positive step towards an

appropriately regulated sector, many residents felt further improvements were

needed to ensure that the sector worked fairly for both operators and residents.

The report recommended strengthening the professionalism of park operators to

help improve their behaviour.

27.Professionalising the sector could have a variety of meanings but for the

purposes of this discussion, we will consider it to broadly encompass ‘all site

owners understanding their obligations, carrying them out to an expected

standard and which results in minimal enforcement by local authorities and

improved relationships with residents’. We have focussed on four different ways

in which this could be achieved.

28.First, if residents know and understand their rights, they can challenge site

owners effectively when issues arise. Without being challenged, some site

owners may continue with their unprofessional behaviour which then becomes

the norm.

Questions:

Q1. To what extent are residents aware of their rights and obligations?

Q2. Are there any barriers to accessing advice about their rights from all

the existing advisory services for residents or understanding those

rights? Please provide a reason(s) for your answer.

Q3. If there are any barriers, what could be done to improve access and

understanding of those rights?

29.Second, through more residents asserting their rights through the First Tier

Tribunal. Determinations made by a tribunal will clarify the legal requirements

and help site owners understand their obligations and what is required of them.

Determinations could also act as a deterrent to other site owners.

Questions:

Q4. What barriers do residents face in asserting their rights through the

tribunals?

Q5. How could these be addressed and by whom?

30.Third, through learning and development opportunities for site owners and their

organisation. Professional site owners will do this in a variety of ways including

through membership of a trade or a professional body and by undertaking

regular training or courses as part of their work.

Questions:

Q6. Should unprofessional site owners be encouraged to take

responsibility for their own learning and development or mandated to

do so? Please give reasons for your answer.

Q7. For the option you have chosen, how could it be implemented and

monitored effectively?

Q8. Are there existing learning and development opportunities available

to all site owners? If yes, please give examples. If no, how could those

opportunities be made available to those currently exempted?

31.Fourth, through more robust local authority enforcement. Enforcement allows the

local authority to set out what is required and give a site owner the opportunity to

comply. In some cases, it will be necessary for either party to seek a

determination from the tribunal. If used consistently and effectively, both

methods could act as a deterrent to other site owners and also assist other local

authorities in their enforcement.

Questions:

Q9. Do local authorities routinely share good practice with other

authorities either directly or seek primary authority advice?

Q10. If yes, please provide an example(s). What benefits have authorities or

other stakeholders derived from this practice?

Q11. If no, what do you think are the barriers to doing so?

Q12. Do you have any additional suggestions on how the sector could be

further professionalised? Please provide reasons for your answer.

A national body

  1. Residents also raised concerns during the research about the effectiveness of

the current local authority site licensing enforcement regime. Many felt that the

enforcement of breaches of site licence conditions by individual local authorities

was not effective. The report recommended that further consideration should be

given to whether a national enforcement body could ensure a more consistent

and higher quality of park operation.

33.The 1960 Act introduced the existing local authority site licensing system. It

gives local authorities the power to first licence sites in their area and second to

take enforcement action where necessary. A summary of local authority

licensing and enforcement powers is at Annex B.

34.The way the existing site licensing system operates mirrors that in place for other

local authority functions such as housing, planning and environmental health.

For all those functions, the local authority’s role and powers are set out in

legislation which also provides them with the necessary enforcement tools.

Those roles and powers are then applied to each local authority’s area as

necessary.

Questions:

Q13. What role, if any, do you think a national body could play to improve

local authority site licensing and enforcement?

Q14. What challenges and opportunities do you foresee from a change to

the current system?

  1. Residents sometimes say that they do not receive any assistance when they

approach their local authority for site licensing services. Some of the reasons

that we know have been given for local authorities not being able to assist

residents include a lack of staff resources or the site licensing team having

responsibilities for other functions such as private rented sector housing. While

these are important reasons that should be addressed, they are outside the

scope of these discussions. This is because how local authorities structure their

departments and allocate resources to carry out their statutory duties is a matter

for each authority. What we want to focus on in this discussion is how residents

can seek redress where a local authority does not carry out its duties or meet

expected standards.

Questions:

Q15. Do you know what a local authority’s site licensing role is and if so,

what would you say it is? If no, what do you think or suggest their role

should be?

Q16. Have you ever been dissatisfied with the service you received from

your local authority’s site licensing team and if so on what aspect(s)

of their role?

Q17. If you have been dissatisfied with a service you received from your

local authority, did you raise your concerns with the local authority

and if so, how, and what was the outcome?

Q18. Should local authorities engage more with their service users and if

so how and what about? If no, why not?

Q19. Do you have any examples of good practice by your local authority

site licensing team? If so, please provide an example(s).

Other considerations

  1. Residents, site owners and local authorities continue to play important roles to

bring much needed change to the sector. In carrying out those roles, each will

have their own objectives and ways of working. While it is right for them to do so,

any differences could result in those groups working against instead of with each

other to help professionalise the sector.

Questions:

Q20. Are there ways in which stakeholders could work together to develop

and share good practice which would benefit their members equally

and the sector as a whole?

PART 2: RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE RATIONALE AND

PAYMENT OF COMMISSION

Section 5 – Summary of the recommendations

37.The issue of commission has been discussed for decades. There have also

been reviews in that time which considered what the commission was for and

whether it should continue to be paid. From the 2021 research, it is clear that

residents and site owners continue to have different views about the

commission.

38.Briefly, many residents perceive that the charging of a 10% commission is

inequitable to their interests. The commission rate appears to be arbitrary,

and the payment is unfair because operators do not provide any service for

this source of income. If the commission rate is changed, there should be no

increases in pitch fees to compensate for any loss of revenue to operators.

39.Park owners on the other hand tend to see the commission as a vital part of

their income. A substantial reduction in the commission rate would reduce

total income, without actually reducing expenditure, thus threatening the

financial viability of parks. The commission allows them to reinvest in the

parks and maintain higher standards without additional costs for homeowners.

Improving standards in the sector should therefore not include steps to make

park businesses unprofitable.

40.We do not intend to revisit those views and arguments during these

discussions. The purpose of this discussion document is to consider the

report’s recommendations and agree a way forward that will work for all those

involved.

41.To recap, the report recommended that;

  • Work is needed to explore the rationale of the commission and to clarify

this rationale for park owners and home owners. The current lack of a

shared understanding in the purpose of the maximum commission leads to

highly subjective arguments about the commission’s role and impact. A

change to the commission would therefore currently be predicated upon the

impacts of the commission rather than the commission’s justified role in the

park home sector.

  • No reduction to the maximum commission on park home re-sales without

financial support for smaller parks. Whilst a reduction in the maximum

commission would support residents’ mobility, it would need to be

significant to effect a major change (i.e. a maximum commission of 5 per

cent or less). Such a reduction in the commission would result in an

increase in the proportion of parks that make a loss in any year; this will

disproportionally have a negative impact on smaller parks. As the majority

of park home owners do not intend to move, it is not in their interest to

increase regular costs (such as pitch fees) in order to compensate park

owners for a reduction in the commission. As such, a reduction in the

commission remains desirable for park home owners, but only if park

owners (in particular smaller site owners) are supported financially through

mechanisms independent of the home owner to retain the viability of parks.

Section 6 – Rationale of the sales commission

42.In considering the commission payment, previous reviews placed more

emphasis on how the level of site owners’ income could be maintained. While

this is an important consideration, our view is that a more important question to

understand is what the commission is for. We agree with the 2022 report that

without clarity on what the commission is for, a change to the commission rate

would currently be predicated upon the impacts of the commission rather than

the commission’s justified role in the park home sector.

  1. The rate of the commission was about 20% in the 1960s until it was reduced to

15% by the Mobile Homes Act 1975. It is unclear what the precise reasoning

was behind the original decision to introduce a 15% cap. The rate was later

reduced to 10% by the Mobile Homes Act 1983. Some of the reasons that have

been put forward over the years to justify what the payment of commission

represents are that;

  • The value of the home sold is an amalgam of the value of the park home and

the value of the site on which it is placed. Without the pitch/site location, the

park home in isolation would be valued at a lower price for re-sale.

  • The commission payment is payable on the sale of the home, and therefore

site owners are able to offer lower on-going pitch fees to residents, with a

one-off payment being made to match an inflow of income for those

residents at the point of sale. This particularly suits older residents who are

often on a fixed low income on an ongoing basis.

  • A compensation payment to the park owner for the continued loss of the use

of the land on which the home sits. In other words, it is the price for security

of tenure given to the park home resident.

44.From table 5.1 in the report, 98% of site operators are a type of business entity.

In our view it is fair to assume that their reasonable aim is to make a profit. When

a site owner therefore decides to go into the business of operating a park home

site, it could further be assumed that they would be fully aware they would be

giving up the use of their land and would take this into account when setting the

price of the pitch or the home they are offering, to make a profit. Also, the pricing

model that most businesses generally adopt would be to set a price for the good

or service they are offering and if a customer then wished to pay for other

additional services, they would make that decision and pay for them either

separately or in addition to the price. The additional services they will have a

choice to pay for, would normally be made clear to them before or after they

have purchased the good or service.

  1. As a hypothetical example, when a site owner first sets up a site they would sell

mobile homes to the purchasers at a one off price but then charge all residents

an additional monthly fee (which could be increased each year) for the ongoing

repair and maintenance of the pitch, common parts and for utilities (may or may

not be included in the pitch fee). If a resident at a later date, wanted the site

owner to provide them only with an additional service for example another

garage in addition to the one every resident was allocated as part of the initial

price, they would negotiate a separate price with the site owner for that extra

garage.

Questions:

Q21. What in your view is the rationale for charging a commission? Please

provide your reason(s) for your response.

Q22. If, in your view, there is a clear rationale(s) for the commission, how

would you define it in a short sentence or paragraph that could be

acceptable to others?

Section 7 –The commission rate

46.The question of what the commission payment is for, will determine whether it is

justified and if so, what the appropriate commission rate should be. In other

words, if there is no justification for the commission then the logical conclusion

would be to abolish it. If it is justified, then the question would be whether the

existing rate is appropriate. For this part of the discussion, we will assume that

the commission payment is justified in order to explore the recommendations

about supporting park owners financially to retain the viability of parks.

Financial incentives

47.If commission is justified and the current maximum rate is determined to be right,

there will be no need to discuss financial incentives for site owners. If the

commission rate was to however change, it would imply that site owners will see

a reduction in their income. The research report concluded that ‘a reduction in

the commission remains desirable for park home owners, but only if park owners

(in particular smaller site owners) are supported financially through mechanisms

independent of the home owner to retain the viability of parks’.

Questions:

Q23. The report does not specify what financial assistance should be

provided if the commission was to be reduced. What form do you

think these could take and how would they be implemented?

Q24. How would you define a ‘small park’?

Q25. Should the financial support be given only to those ‘small parks’ or

also to other park types and if so which other types? Please give

reasons for your answers.

Changing the commission rate – options

48.Previous reviews considered a number of options in the event that changes had

to be made to the commission rate. Some of these were;

  • Including commission payments in the initial purchase price – for new

agreements, one option would be for the commission payment to be

‘incorporated’ into the cost of the purchase of a new or existing park home.

This could, therefore, allow a new resident to have the choice of paying the

market price of the home and then agreeing to pay a commission upon sale or

of paying a commuted amount at the time of purchase and avoiding a future

commission payment.

  • Sliding Rate – the commission rate could be linked to the length of time the

resident had spent on their respective park.

  • Altered base – the commission rate would be applied to other bases other

than the sales price of the park home, but again maintaining the same total

revenue for the park operator. Those bases could include the land component

reflected in the value of the home, the increase in the value of the land

component, or the calculation on the value of the home excluding the fixture

and fittings and improvements made by the resident.

49.The Government considered these options but rejected them ahead of its 2007

consultation on the commission rate. In developing the consultation paper, the

Government consulted with residents and trade bodies on its reasons for

rejecting those options and the alternative options it intended to consult on.

Questions:

Q26. Do you agree that including commission in the initial purchase price,

a sliding rate or an altered base should still be rejected as options? If

not, why?

Pitch fee increase

50.Other options that have been discussed or put forward previously is for pitch

fees to increase if changes are made to the commission rate, in order to

compensate park owners for a reduction in the commission.

51.The 2022 report however recommends that site owners should be assisted

‘through mechanisms independent of the home owner ‘. If so, any increases in

pitch fees to compensate site owners would be excluded as an option.

Questions:

Q27. Apart from increasing pitch fees or receiving financial incentives

(paragraph 47), are there other ways site owners could generate

additional revenues within the existing framework, to enable them to

maintain and improve parks? If yes, what are they? If no, why not?

Q28. If any loss of income resulting from a change in the rate of

commission payable was relatively small in comparison to total

income over a period of time, should the industry be able to

accommodate such an outcome without seeking compensation?

Please give reasons for your answer.

Other considerations

52.As mentioned in para 46, this part of the discussion assumes that the

commission payment is justified. The debate around the payment of commission

has been going on for decades and all sides have during that time maintained

the same views/positions. It is possible that the debates could go on for much

longer or in order to find a resolution, one side may have to accept a decision

they have previously argued against.

Questions:

Q29. Is there a compromise position around the rate or indeed the amount

of commission paid, that you would accept and if so, what would that

be? If no, please provide your reason(s).

53.If changes to the commission result in a fall in site owners’ incomes, they may

not be able to adequately maintain their sites. This could have an impact on

residents’ health and wellbeing and lead to increased complaints to the local

authority and increased enforcement action. The site owner may however be

unable to comply with compliance notices issued if they still did not have the

resources to do so.

Questions:

Q30. In those circumstances and taking into account any answers you

have given in Section One, what further action(s) if any, could the

parties involved take to resolve any ongoing site maintenance and

repair issues?

  1. An existing resident’s pitch agreement reflects what they were willing to pay to

site the home on the pitch together with future pitch fee payments and a

maximum 10% commission. As the price was determined without coercion, it

follows that the removal or reduction of the commission rate would be a

retrospective change that will disadvantage the site operator.

Questions:

Q31. Is there any justification for applying any change to the commission

payment to existing agreements? If so, what are your reasons?

Annex A – Summary of residents’ rights

The written statement

  • A site owner must give a resident a written statement which sets out the terms implied by

law (‘implied terms’) and any other terms agreed between the resident and the site

owner (’express terms’).

  • The written statement must be given to the buyer 28 days before they sign the

agreement unless they agree otherwise. If the written statement is not given the resident

can apply to the First Tier tribunal for an order making the site owner to do so. The site

owner cannot enforce any express terms in the agreement (including charging the pitch

fee) until the resident has had the written statement.

  • If a purchaser buys a second-hand home from a resident, the seller is required to

provide the documents set out in the Buyers Information form (including the agreement

and written statement) at least 28 days before the completion of the sale and

assignment of the agreement. This is to allow the purchaser time to read and

understand the agreement they are entering into. The site owner cannot give the

purchaser a new agreement or make any changes to the express terms such as

increasing the pitch fee.

Security of tenure and length of the agreement

  • A site owner cannot give a resident a time-limited agreement unless the site owner has

a limited interest in the land (for example, a short-term lease) or unless the planning

permission to use the site for stationing homes is for a limited period.

  • A resident’s agreement will be time limited if the site owner’s interest in the land is

limited. If the site owner’s interest in the land is limited but is later extended or made

indefinite, the resident’s agreement must be extended in the same way.

Ending the agreement

  • A resident may end their agreement at any time, by giving the site owner at least 28

days’ notice in writing. A site owner can only bring an agreement to an end if they get

permission from a county court and only if the resident has broken the terms of the

agreement; is not living in the home as their main home or the condition of the home is

having a detrimental effect on the amenity of the site.

Eviction and harassment

  • A resident cannot be evicted from their home or their home removed from the site by the

site owner, without an order from the court. It is a criminal offence for anyone to evict a

resident or remove their home without a court order or to try to make a resident leave by

threats, violence, withholding services (such as water, gas or electricity) or any other

sort of harassment.

  • It is an offence for the site owner to knowingly or recklessly provide a resident with false

or misleading information if they know, or have reasonable cause to believe, that doing

so is likely to make the resident leave the site or refrain from exercising your rights.

Resident’s general responsibilities under the implied terms

  • A resident must pay their pitch fee and any other charges due under the agreement;

keep their home in a good state of repair; and keep the outside of their home and the

pitch in a clean and tidy condition. Residents also have a right to quiet enjoyment of

their home.

Site owner’s general responsibilities

  • The site owner must repair the base for the home when necessary; maintain any

services which they supply to a home and pitch; and maintain, in a clean and tidy

condition, parts of the site which are not the resident’s responsibility.

  • The site owner must give a resident and any qualifying residents’ association their name

and address. If they do not give this information, a resident can refuse to pay the pitch

fee until they do so. Any demand for a resident to pay the pitch fee (or any other

charges) must also include an address in England or Wales. If not, the resident does not

have to make the payment until they are given the address.

Site owner’s duty to consult about certain matters

  • A site owner must consult a resident and any qualifying residents’ association on

improvements to the site, particularly if the improvements will affect the pitch fee.

Moving a mobile home

  • A site owner can move a resident’s home for essential repairs to the base on which the

home is placed or for emergency work or repairs following a flood, landslide or other

natural disaster. The site owner must return the home to its original pitch when the

repairs are finished. If they don’t, the resident can apply to the tribunal for an order

making them return the home to its original pitch.

  • If a site owner wants to move a home for any other reason (whether temporarily or

permanently), they can only do so with authorisation from a tribunal. In all cases, the

new pitch must be broadly similar to the current pitch and the site owner will have to pay

any costs and expenses that the resident has to pay in connection with the move to and

from the pitch.

Site owner’s right to enter a pitch

  • The site owner (or their employees or agent) may enter a resident’s pitch without notice

between 9am and 6pm to deliver post or other written communications or to read meters

for which they are responsible.

  • The site owner (or their employees and agents) may also enter a resident’s pitch to

carry out essential repairs or emergency work. Before doing so, they must give the

resident as much notice as reasonably possible in the circumstances. For any other

reason, they must give the resident at least 14 days’ notice in writing. A site owner has

no right to enter a resident’s home unless the resident invites them.

Selling a home

  • A resident has a right to sell their home with the benefit of the pitch. A resident can also

give their home and pass on the agreement (gifting), to a member of their family.

Pitch fee reviews

  • The site owner can review the pitch fee from time to time. They must follow the statutory

procedure including the use of a statutory form otherwise the pitch fee review will be

invalid. If a resident is unwilling to agree to a proposed increase, the site owner cannot

unilaterally impose the increase. The site owner must apply to the First Tier Tribunal to

seek a determination (a resident can also make an application but they don’t have to).

  • Where a pitch fee review is invalid but residents are made to pay the proposed increase,

the resident can apply to the tribunal and if it is determined that the review is invalid, the

tribunal may order the site owner to pay back the overpayment.

Site rules

  • Site rules can only be made, varied or deleted if the site owner follows a specific

procedure which includes depositing the rules with the local authority. The site rules

then become part of the express terms of the agreement. Certain site rules such as

those preventing residents from selling or gifting their home to anyone but the site

owner, those requiring residents to use tradespeople appointed by the site owner or only

purchase goods and services supplied by them, are banned and cannot be enforced.

Gas, electricity and water resale

  • For gas and electricity, the maximum amount a site owner can charge a resident (the

Maximum Resale Price) is the amount the site owner paid for the energy, plus VAT at

the appropriate rate. The site owner can recover the supplier’s standing charge.

  • Anyone reselling water or sewerage services should charge no more than the amount

they are charged by the water company plus a reasonable administration fee.

Maintenance costs for water or sewerage pipe work are not included in the resale price.

These costs are usually recovered through the pitch fee or by separate agreement.

Annex B – Summary of local authority site licensing powers

  • All caravan sites unless exempted, require the appropriate planning permission.
  • A site licence will be granted to the site owner once planning permission has been

granted. The purpose of licensing is to ensure the site and amenities are safe and

healthy for residents and other users of the site.

Site licence applications

  • Local authorities have discretion as to whether or not to grant or approve a transfer of a

licence. They have a duty to exercise the discretion and cannot grant or approve a

transfer without making relevant enquiries into the proposed licence holder’s suitability

to hold the licence. It must also take into account the conduct of the existing licence

holder (if any) when making its decision.

  • If the local authority decides to approve the transfer or grant the licence it may do so

subject to undertakings, given by either the existing or proposed licence holder.

Although the local authority can ask for undertakings to be given and must consider any

offered, it is not bound to accept any undertaking.

  • Local authorities can refuse an application to grant a new licence or transfer an existing

licence if the proposal would reduce the amenity of the site, its access or the quality of

any site services. It can also refuse to grant an application, if doing so would mean the

local authority was unable to ensure the site as a whole is adequately maintained or

managed, through the licence or otherwise.

Site licensing conditions

  • Local authorities can attach conditions to a site licence in respect of the amenities on

the site. Site licence conditions can govern matters such as the permitted number of

caravans on the site, provision of roads, utilities, sewerage, fire equipment and spacing

distances between homes.

  • Local authorities cannot enforce (or impose) site licence conditions in respect of the

fabric of the mobile home itself.

  • A local authority has the power to change licence conditions at any time. The local

authority does not require the “agreement” of a site operator to change the conditions

but the local authority must consult on the proposed changes.

  • If a site owner fails to comply with a site licence condition, the local authority can serve a

compliance notice on the site owner listing the steps that need to be taken, within a

specified time period, to comply with the requirements of the site licence.

  • If the site owner fails to comply within the period specified in the notice, the local

authority can prosecute them and if convicted they will face an unlimited fine. The local

authority may then enter the site and do the necessary works.

  • The authority will be able to recover all its enforcement costs including court costs (and

charge interest on the expenses claimed) from the site owner.

  • Authorities have a suite of powers to recover their costs and expenses, including

through a local land charge and if the debt is extensive and remains unpaid by forcing

the sale of the site.

  • Local authorities can charge site owners an annual fee for administering and monitoring

licences. They can also charge fees for considering applications for the grant or transfer

of a licence.

  • They can charge fees for the monitoring and administration of existing site licences

through levying an annual fee.

Fines

  • Not complying with a compliance notice is subject to a level 5 fine (unlimited)
  • Operating a site without a licence now attracts a level 5 fine.
  • Obstructing an officer attracts a level 4 maximum fine of £5000.
  • Directors, secretaries and other relevant officers of a company which is found guilty of a

licence offence will be liable to be punished as well as the company, if it is convicted.

Fit and proper person test

  • In addition to granting a site licence, local authorities must be satisfied that the owner or

manager of a site is a fit and proper person to manage the site.

  • In assessing an application, a local authority must consider a number of matters

including whether the person has a sufficient level of competence to manage the site

and the management structure and funding arrangements for the site.

  • The local authority may have regard to the conduct of any person associated or formerly

associated with the relevant person (whether on a personal, work or other basis) if it

appears to the authority that that person’s conduct is relevant to the question of whether

the relevant person is a fit and proper person to manage the site or proposed site.

  • The local authority can decide whether to place the relevant person on the register with

or without conditions, or not to place them on the register.

  • Where a relevant person fails an assessment and the site owner is unable to identify

and appoint a suitable alternative manager who must also undergo the fit and proper

assessment, the local authority could appoint a person to manage the site, with the

consent of the site owner.

  • It is an offence for a site owner to:

(a) cause or permit land to be operated as a relevant protected site unless they or the

person appointed to manage the site is a fit and proper person to manage the site

(b) provide false or misleading information or fail to provide information in an

application; or

(c) fail to comply with a requirement set as a condition of the local authority’s decision

to include a person on the register.

  • If convicted for any of these offences, the site owner will face a potentially unlimited fine.

Harassment

  • Local authorities have powers to prosecute for offences under Section 3 of the Caravan

Sites Act 1968. Under that section it is a criminal offence for site owners (or persons

acting on their behalf) to evict, attempt to evict or through harassment cause the

resident to give up their mobile home (without a court order), or prevent them from

exercising a lawful right (for example to sell their home) or seeking a remedy.

  • Harassment includes interfering with their peace and comfort or by withdrawing services

or facilities.

  • The maximum penalty for a first offence is an unlimited fine. For the second or

subsequent offence the penalty is an unlimited fine or imprisonment not exceeding 6

months.

17th November 2023.

Membership Renewal

Membership Fee Receipts

We have almost 100 Members with the similar surnames,

SMITH     BROWN     JONES    WILLIAMS

However, some people with these AND OTHER names do not help the Membership Team as they do not use the reference given when making payments.

If we cannot identify you your membership could be terminated.

Who are the people shown on our bank statement as

Mr A XXXXXXX who paid £6.00 as an annual membership (No reference)

MR B XYXYXY  no reference at all

Ms C ABCDEF  Grandmas Insurance no reference

Miss D QWERTY-GLOS

MR AB   CDEFG  Fees

If you are one of the above, please call us and we can then identify you and update your records?. You each have a Membership number when we speak to you we can help find the relevant numbers. If you pay by Standing Order your reference will be IND-the abbreviation for your County and 3 numbers  (IND-LOND123 for example).

 If you have paid and have not received a membership certificate these people could include you.  Please contact us on 0800 612 6273 to sort things out.

22nd September 2023.

GOVERNMENT CONSULTATIONS

GOVERNMENT CONSULTATIONS OF RELEVANCE TO PARK HOMES

DEAR FELLOW MEMBERS,

This week, the Department for Energy and Net Zero (DESNZ), published a call for evidence from domestic consumers with non-domestic energy supply contracts.

The call for evidence aims to increase their understanding of domestic consumers who receive their energy via a non-domestic contract (usually the park owner), the reasons for those arrangements, and what prices they face.

Please see the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/domestic-consumers-with-non-domestic-energy-supply-contracts-call-for-evidence

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1173132/domestic-consumers-on-non-domestic-energy-contracts-call-for-evidence.pdf

Members will be aware that IPHAS raised this subject with the then Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the non-ministerial Government energy regulator Ofgem during a virtual meeting arranged for the purpose on 8TH November 2023.

This call for evidence is your opportunity to submit a written summary of your personal experience or concerns arising from purchasing your energy from your park owner.

Whilst the purpose of this call for evidence is NOT A REVIEW about the delivery of the Governments energy support grants.

However if your application for either or both the EBSS – AF and AFP – AF payments was rejected, as a domestic consumer with a non-domestic energy supplier, that may well have been of significance in that rejection.

IPHAS consider this to be highly relevant to the DESNZ evidence gathering as currently, you are disadvantaged as an energy consumer.

Kind regards and best wishes,

IAN R PYE CHAIR

The Independent Park Home Advisory Service (2021) Ltd.

26th July 2023.

EBSS Announcement

EBSS Announcement


As per our previous communication on 30 May, the Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF) had a limited extension for corporate appointees with business bank accounts applying on behalf of eligible applicants, until 16 June.

Eligible corporate appointees have been able to make an application calling our contact centre helpline on 0808 175 3287. The contact centre helpline will not accept any new applications from corporate appointees using business bank accounts after 6pm on 16 June.

The contact centre helplines for the EBSS AF will remain open to assist applicants who still have applications being processed or who need assistance with a cancelled or rejected application.

Local authorities will continue to process applications after the scheme has closed to new applications and we expect final payments to all eligible applicants to be completed in the summer.

Any review cases that have been raised by an applicant will also continue to be processed after the schemes closes to new applications. Any application that has been incorrectly rejected will be reconsidered by local authorities who will process the claim and, if the application is deemed eligible, will deliver the support into their bank account.

If you have any queries regarding the closure of the EBSS AF, please contact energy.bills.rebate@beis.gov.uk.

Thank you for your continued support throughout the duration of the EBSS AF and the AFP AF.

Kind Regards

The EBSS AF

17th June 2023

EBSS-AF and AFP-AF Schemes

THE EBSS-AF AND AFP-AF ENERGY RELIEF SCHEMES CLOSED ON THE 31st MAY 2023. FROM THAT DATE THE CONTACT CENTRE HELPLINES WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY NEW APPLICATIONS FOR EITHER SCHEME.


However, applications from corporate appointees using business bank accounts can still apply for the EBSS AF until 16 June, by calling the EBSS AF contact centre helpline on 0808 175 3287. This is the only way for corporate appointees using business bank accounts to apply for the scheme after 31 May.


The contact centre helplines for both schemes will remain open to assist applicants who still have applications being processed or who need assistance with a cancelled or rejected application.

Local authorities will continue to process applications after the schemes have closed to new applications and we expect final payments to all eligible applicants to be completed in the summer.

Any review cases that have been raised by an applicant will also continue to be processed after the schemes close to new applications. Any application that has been incorrectly rejected will be reconsidered by local authorities who will process the claim and, if the application is deemed eligible, will deliver the support into their bank account.

If you have any queries regarding the closure of the EBSS AF, please contact energy.bills.rebate@beis.gov.uk.

If you have any queries regarding the closure of the AFP AF, please contact: Domestic Alternative Fuel Payment domesticAFP@beis.gov.uk

8TH June 2023

Alternative Fuel Payment

IF YOU ARE YET TO REGISTER A SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION FOR THE £200 ALTERNATIVE FUEL PAYMENT GRANT, PLEASE USE THE FOLLOWING LINK TO LEARN HOW YOU CAN MAKE OR PROGRESS YOUR APPLICATIONS – THE SCHEME CLOSES ON THE 31st MAY 2023

TELEPHONE 0808 175 3443

https://www.gov.uk/apply-alternative-fuel-bill-support-if-not-automatic

 

Dear all,

As you are aware the Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF) launched on 27 February, allowing eligible households who do not have a domestic electricity supply to apply for their £400 support.

The Alternative Fuel Payment Alternative Fund (AFP AF) launched on 6 March, allowing eligible households who use alternative fuels to apply for the £200 support, where this has not already been received directly through their electricity supplier.

Both schemes are closing for new applications on Wednesday 31 May. The application portals will close at 11:59pm 31 May and after 6pm 31 May the contact centre helplines will not accept any new applications for both schemes.

However, applications from corporate appointees using business bank accounts can still apply for the EBSS AF until 16 June, by calling the EBSS AF contact centre helpline on 0808 175 3287. This is the only way for corporate appointees using business bank accounts to apply for the scheme after 31 May.

We are aware that corporate appointees who have attempted to apply for the EBSS AF on behalf of eligible applicants, using a business bank account, have been unable to do so until now as business bank accounts were not accepted. Officials have now resolved this matter, and corporate appointees are now able to apply for the scheme on behalf of eligible individuals via the contact centre helpline.

This limited extension period has therefore been agreed for corporate appointees using business bank accounts as they have been unable to apply throughout the duration of the scheme to date, and so an additional 2 weeks have been provided so that eligible applicants with corporate appointees using business bank accounts are able to apply for their support.

The AFP AF scheme will close on 31 May with no extension period provided. As the use of corporate appointees with business bank accounts is a matter which primarily relates to those in residential care, the AFP AF does not require any extension period as these individuals are not eligible for the AFP AF scheme.

The contact centre helplines for both schemes will remain open to assist applicants who still have applications being processed or who need assistance with a cancelled or rejected application.

Local authorities will continue to process applications after the schemes have closed to new applications and we expect final payments to all eligible applicants to be completed in the summer.

Any review cases that have been raised by an applicant will also continue to be processed after the schemes close to new applications. Any application that has been incorrectly rejected will be reconsidered by local authorities who will process the claim and, if the application is deemed eligible, will deliver the support into their bank account.

If you have any queries regarding the closure of the EBSS AF, please contact energy.bills.rebate@beis.gov.uk.

If you have any queries regarding the closure of the AFP AF, please contact: Domestic Alternative Fuel Payment domesticAFP@beis.gov.uk

Thank you for your continued support throughout the duration of the EBSS AF and the AFP AF.

Kind Regards

The EBSS AF and AFP AF Teams

FURTHER INFORMATION

 NB: For those who have already applied but have had their applications rejected the helplines will REMAIN open to assist them. Also, any review cases that have been raised by an applicant will also continue to be processed after the schemes close to new applications.

 If you are affected by any of these circumstances, please the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero using the relevant email address below.

  If anyone has any queries regarding the closure of the EBSS AF, they should contact energy.bills.rebate@beis.gov.uk.

 If anyone has any queries regarding the closure of the AFP AF, they should contact domesticAFP@beis.gov.uk

 31st May 2023.

RPI change to CPI

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
3rd Floor (NE) Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF
www.gov.uk/dluhc

Date: 17 May 2023

Dear park home resident,

The Government committed to introduce legislation to change the inflationary index used in pitch fee reviews from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the lower Consumer Price Index (CPI).

I am writing to inform you that the change will be introduced by the Mobile Homes (Pitch Fees) Act 2023, when it comes into force on 2 July 2023.

 What this means for you as a park home resident is that on and from 2 July 2023;

  • the inflationary index to be used by site owners in all pitch fee reviews will be the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Residents should check the pitch fee review form to ensure that CPI has been used in the calculation of the proposed pitch fee.
  • If a site owner uses RPI in the calculation of the pitch fee from that day, the pitch fee review will be invalid and the resident does not have to pay the proposed increase. They must however continue to pay the old fee until the First Tier Tribunal makes a determination.
  • A site owner cannot also pass on to residents through the pitch fee, any amount to compensate them for any financial loss arising from the change.

 What happens next

  • Pitch fee reviews will continue as normal. This means that in any review which is started between now and 2 July 2023, the site owner can use RPI in the calculation of the proposed pitch fee.
  • Regulations will shortly be made to change all references in the current pitch fee review form, from RPI to CPI. The consolidated implied terms will also be updated to reflect those changes. The revised pitch fee review form and the consolidated implied terms will be published on GOV.UK website on 2 July 2023.

Attached to this letter are questions and answers regarding the changes which I hope you will find helpful. If you require further advice on the proposed changes or your rights, you can contact LEASE, the free independent service on telephone 020 7832 2525 or through their website at https://parkhomes.lease-advice.org/.

Yours sincerely

William Tandoh

Park Homes Policy Team

 

Q & As – Mobile Homes (Pitch Fees) Act 2013

Q: What changes will the Act introduce?

  • The Act will:
  • change the inflationary index used in pitch fee reviews from the RPI to CPI;
  • prevent the difference between RPI and CPI from being passed on to residents

Q: When will the changes come into effect?

  • The Act will come into force on 2 July 2023. On or after that date, CPI must be used in all pitch fee reviews.

 Q: Will site owners be permitted to pass on any loss of income as a result of the changes, to residents through the pitch fee?

  • Site owners cannot pass on any loss of income as a result of the changes, to residents.

Q: How can residents be sure the site owner has not passed on any lost income through the pitch fee?

  • To conduct a pitch fee review, a site owner is required to use a pitch fee review form which must show how the pitch fee has been calculated.
  • Before agreeing to the proposed pitch fee, residents should check the form carefully and read the notes attached to the form, to ensure that only matters that can be taken into account in a pitch fee review have been used in the calculation.

Q: What should I do if such an amount has been included in the calculation of the pitch fee?

  • If an amount representing a loss of income to the site owner as a result of the changes is included in the calculation, the resident does not have to pay it. The resident must however continue to pay the old pitch fee.
  • The site owner can then apply to the First Tier Tribunal to seek its determination of the pitch fee.
  • If the First-tier Tribunal determines that a site owner has included an amount in the pitch fee to compensate them for the financial loss arising from the RPI/CPI change, it will deem the amount to be unreasonable and remove the relevant amount from the pitch fee.

Q: If a pitch fee review notice is issued before the Act comes into force, will the site owner have to issue another notice to take account of the change?

  • No, the site owner will not have to issue another pitch fee review notice if they issue one before the Act comes into force.
  • Pitch fee reviews which started before 2 July, will use RPI in the calculation of the proposed pitch fee. At the next pitch fee review, the site owner will have to use CPI.

 Q: When must a site owner start using CPI in a pitch fee review?

  • If a pitch fee review notice is issued before 2 July, the site owner will calculate the proposed pitch fee using RPI.
  • If the pitch fee review notice is issued on or after 2 July 2023, the site owner must use CPI to calculate the proposed pitch fee.
  • They must also use the updated pitch fee review form which refers to CPI instead of RPI. The form will be published on GOV.UK on 2 July 2023.
  • If a site owner uses the old form, the pitch fee review will be invalid and the resident does not have to pay the proposed pitch fee.

Q: What changes will be made to the pitch fee review form?

  • First, all references to RPI in the form will change to CPI. 
  • Second, the form will be 6 pages instead of the previous 8 pages.
  • Third, in the notes on page 5 under the section titled ‘Matters that cannot be included in a pitch fee review’, there will be an additional bullet point which makes clear that any costs relating to any financial loss arising from the change from RPI to CPI, cannot be included in a pitch fee review.

 Q: Does my site owner have to give me a copy of the updated consolidated implied terms?

  • No, your site owner does not have to give you a copy of the updated implied terms. 
  • The implied terms will be published on 2 July 2023 on GOV.UK and will automatically apply to all written agreements.

 Should my site owner give me a new written agreement as a result of the changes from RPI to CPI?

  • No, your site owner does not have to give you a new agreement.
  • If your site owner gives or offers you a new written agreement, do not sign or accept it.

If you need any advice about your rights you can contact LEASE on telephone 020 7832 2525 or through their website at https://parkhomes.lease-advice.org/

17th May 2023.

STOP PRESS

URGENT APPEAL TO MEMBERS

Is your name Brown, Morris, Ring, Reid, Turner or Tagliareni?

Have you changed your address or email address?

Some members with these names have forwarded payment to IPHAS without a reference or contact details and we do not know who you are.

Please note that failure to use YOUR MEMBERSHIP NUMBER OR OTHER CONTACT DETAILS when making a payment could mean that in some circumstances your payment could be credited to another account and your membership suspended for non-payment.

We can only help you if we know who you are, so if you think this may be you.

Could you please contact IPHAS Membership as soon as possible, using the message board on the homepage of our website.

Thank you.

May 2023.