DEPARTMENT FOR HOUSING AND REGENERATION

WELSH GOVERNMENT

DEPARTMENT FOR HOUSING AND REGENERATION

30th March 2022

In March 2019, Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, decided not to implement the decision to change the maximum commission rate from the sale of a residential park home, but to reconsider the matter afresh.

However, the outbreak of Covid-19 meant that resources were redeployed to enable officials to focus on the immediate challenges being faced as a consequence of Covid-19. This meant that the work to gather further evidence and engage with the sector was postponed.

It is clear that the pandemic is still having a significant impact on our lives. It has prevented us from fully engaging with the sector to seek evidence so that the Minister can consider this matter afresh.

The pandemic and our ‘no-one left out’ approach have shone a light on the extent of hidden homelessness in Wales. Welsh Government is therefore focused on preventing homelessness and transforming homelessness services for the long term. We are also focusing on supporting people facing cost of living increases, including supporting people to sustain their tenancies.

Alongside this, the war in Ukraine has caused the displacement of many tens of thousands of people from their homes and marked the onset of the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe for decades. As a nation of sanctuary, we are committed to do whatever we can to welcome and support people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

As a consequence of these unprecedented pressures, the Minister has asked officials to postpone work on gathering evidence for the remainder of this Government term.

We realise that some people will be disappointed to hear that this work will continue to be postponed. The Minister recognises the importance of the commission rate and the impact this has had on owners of park homes and site owners, and continues to believe that the best way to proceed is to ensure any decision is based on accurate, up-to-date and carefully considered evidence.

However, in order to provide the information on which the Minister can take a balanced view, she must have the strongest possible evidence base on which to base her decision. This will require significantly more work which the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other pressures have not allowed us to progress.

Yours sincerely

Amelia John

Deputy Director, Housing Policy

WELSH PROPOSAL TO REDUCE THE 10% COMMISSION WITHDRAWN

As a result of the consultation process on the Park Homes Commission Rate (See the above Link), the Minister in the Welsh Assembly proposed that the commission payable on the sale of a park home should be reduced from the current maximum of 10 percent by one percent each year for five years. This would bring the maximum rate of commission down to 5 percent. We in IPHAS and NAPHR pointed out that the park owners could claim an increase in pitch fees to compensate but the Minister replied that this could be settled by the tribunal system.

In practice, the tribunal would have to follow the law and implied term 18(1)(d) states that any change in the law affecting the management of the site could be considered at the pitch fee review. Therefore, we wrote to the Welsh Assembly expressing our concern at the probable increase in pitch fees resulting from their proposal. When this appeared to have no effect, we combined our letters with letters from the BH&HPA and NCC. However, we did make it known to all that our reasons were different. Our reasons were to prevent an increase in pitch fees while the BH&HPA and NCC were concerned about the park owner’s income.

The Welsh Assembly have now withdrawn their proposal, but that is only temporary, and IPHAS will continue to monitor the situation. We will explain to the Welsh Minister, that a simple amendment to the implied term could have the desired effect.

Click here to find out more

SCOTTISH STANDARDS

The Scottish Government is introducing new standards for fire and smoke alarms in all homes in Scotland from February 2022, but this will not apply to park homes. From this date, every (traditional) home must have:

  • a smoke alarm in the living room and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings
  • a heat alarm in every kitchen all alarms ceiling mounted and interlinked
  • a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances such as boilers and wood burners

The new rules mean the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds is being extended to all homes in Scotland.
An enquiry by the Chair of SCOPHRA, (The Scottish Confederation of Park Home Residents Associations), to the Scottish Government on the application of the legislation to park homes brought the response below:

“The new standard will not apply to park homes. The reason is that they are not covered by the definition of house in the legislation.
Simon Roberts Policy Manager: Housing Standards and Quality”

However, SCOPHRA endorses this new level of precautions and urges park home residents, for their own safety, to ensure adequate fire safety. Please check your detectors, ensure the batteries are working, test all detectors regularly and if you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, SCOPHRA recommends you install one. These are available online or from DIY stores. 

HAVE YOU SUFFERED FLOOD DAMAGE, OR DO YOU LIVE IN A HIGH-RISK FLOOD AREA OF THE COUNTRY?

Re-insurance cover for properties at risk of flood.

Floodre is a joint initiative between the Government and Insurers to provide ‘flood cover insurance’ as an additional element to a home insurance policy (Park Homes included), that would normally not offer flood cover to a prospective customer.  It is designed to cover properties built before 2009 (qualifying criteria) that might not be considered insurable against flood and to/or make any higher premiums for those that are, more affordable, and to provide flood cover for properties that private insurers totally refuse to consider.

Not all insurance companies will offer Flood cover for new customers, especially to those with properties located near bodies of water.  The Floodre scheme is not a mandatory one for insurance companies to adopt unfortunately, and even with the clear financial benefits to them and the peace of mind a flood cover policy offers their customers, some companies don’t participate in the scheme or only for geographically specific areas.    

There remains a large number of properties throughout the UK that are considered to be too high a risk by insurance companies to be offered any Flood Cover whatsoever, leaving many with standard buildings and contents cover – with a flood exclusion.  This clearly leaves them in a very vulnerable position and because they can’t find any flood cover, this exclusion can detrimentally affect the property’s re-sale value as a result too.  

SCHEME ELIGIBILTY

Who is eligible for Flood Re?

  • Properties must be located within the UK mainland.
  • Properties must have a Council Tax band A to H.
  • Properties must be built before 1st January 2009. Note: If a property has been demolished and rebuilt before this date, then the new building is still eligible for Flood Re.
  • Properties must be used for residential purposes.
  • Properties must have an individual premium.
  • Leasehold flats with three or less fewer units are eligible.
  • The policy holder or their immediate family must live in the home for some or all of the time, or the property must be unoccupied.
  • The insurance contract must be in the name of one or more individuals, not companies.

Who is not eligible for Flood Re?

  • Bed and breakfast premises that are paying business rates.
  • Contingent buildings policies, such as those held by banks.
  • Farm outbuildings.
  • Freeholders/leaseholders deriving commercial income by insuring large numbers of properties for a portfolio.
  • Housing association’s residential properties.
  • Multi-use properties under commercial or private ownership.
  • Residential ‘buy to let’ properties that do not meet the criteria specified above.
  • Static caravan site owners when they are being used for commercial gain.
  • In the case of blocks of residential flats, company houses/flats, and social housing contents only can be covered.

Floodre website:   https://www.floodre.co.uk/

Floodre List of Insurers:            https://www.floodre.co.uk/can-flood-re-help-me/

 

FORM TO BE USED WITH PITCH FEE REVIEW NOTICE

From 26 July 2013 a pitch fee review notice must be accompanied by a form explaining the increase. The form to be used in a review is now available for download at
https://www.gov.uk/park-homes-guidance
There are two versions (one for completion on- line the other for printing and completion by hand).
It is also important to note that the form accompanies the review notice. If the form is served without a review notice the review would be invalid.
The review notice itself can simply state the new pitch fee, the amount of increase and the date the increased pitch fee is payable from. From 26 July 2013 a pitch fee review notice must be accompanied by a form explaining the increase. The form to be used in a review is now available for download at
https://www.gov.uk/park-homes-guidance
There are two versions (one for completion on- line the other for printing and completion by hand).
It is also important to note that the form accompanies the review notice. If the form is served without a review notice the review would be invalid.
The review notice itself can simply state the new pitch fee, the amount of increase and the date the increased pitch fee is payable from.

REGISTER YOUR HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES

The government has supported a home safety initiative which aims to encourage consumers to register their home appliances so that they can be contacted in case of a product safety repair or recall. An information sheet can be downloaded here

Download the PDF

AMDEA (The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances has created a website https://www.registermyappliance.org.uk to make it easier for the public to register all their appliances from one website portal. While the incidence of product recall is rare it is very important for the safety of owners in their homes – if your product isnt registered you cant be contacted.

SITE LICENCE FEE IN THE PITCH FEE

The Mobile Homes Act 2013 introduced a number of changes one of which was to give more powers to the local authorities regarding the site licence and the licence conditions. One change was that it allowed the local authority to charge an annual fee for the site licence. Under the implied terms this charge can be passed onto the residents at the following pitch fee review.

The relevant implied term is 18(1)(ba) which states:
18-(1) When determining the amount of the new pitch fee particular regard shall be had to-
(ba) any direct effect on the costs payable by the owner in relation to the maintenance or management of the site of an enactment which has come into force since the last review date:

This means that at the next pitch fee review following the imposition of the annual site licence fee by the local authority on the site owner the amount of the fee can be divided by the number of occupied homes and added to the pitch fee. It then becomes an integral part of the pitch fee which is usually increased by the RPI each year. Because this legislation came into force on 1 April 2014 the fee contribution cannot be added to the pitch fee at a review after 1 April 2015.

LIQUIFIED PETROLEUM GAS (LPG)

CHARGES

Unlike other utilities, there are no rules governing the resale of LPG and the park owner 

usually makes a profit on the resale. However, Implied Term 22(b)(ii) of the Written Statement still applies. The park owner must provide on request, documentary evidence in support and explanation of all charges for LPG he resells. Residents use LPG either in cylinders or from tanks installed on the pitch or from a common large tank on the park. Where residents use cylinders, they are free to use whatever supplier they like however, on some parks, the park owner may insist on residents purchasing cylinders through him and he may make a profit on this resale.

Where a resident has an LPG tank on his pitch he is usually billed direct from the supplier. 

On some parks, the park owner may insist on the transaction being made through him and he may make a profit on this resale.

Some parks have one large LPG tank on the park owned and operated by the park owner and the gas is piped to the individual pitches. The park owner will read the resident’s meter and will then bill the resident. 

Again, Implied Term 22(b)(ii) of the Written Statement states the park owner must provide on request, documentary evidence in support and explanation of his charges, including any LPG he resells. But, from examination of these documents the resident considers that the park owner is making an excessive profit from the resale of LPG, there is little that can be done about it.

SAFETY

The following links provide useful information and answers to your questions on the subject of LPG supplies and safety regulations.

LPG in Residential Parks
https://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/internalops/ocs/400-499/440_34.htm

Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations
https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l56.htm

Safe materials in LPG installations
https://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/lpg/servicepipework.htm

WARM HOME DISCOUNT SCHEME

Consultation:

The consultation process ended on 22 August 2021 (see above link), proposes to expand, and reform the scheme in England and Wales until 2026, in line with the commitments announced in the Energy White Paper in 2020. The objective of the reforms is to improve the fuel poverty targeting rate of the scheme and ensure more fuel poor households can receive rebates on their energy bills automatically, through data matching.

Click here to find out more