Park Homes Research Report: The impact of a change in the Maximum Park Home Sale Commission
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.
- 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).”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- To strengthen the professionalism of park operators;
- To consider whether a national enforcement body could ensure a more
consistent and higher quality of park operation;
- To explore and clarify the rationale of the commission; and that,
- There should be no reduction to the commission rate without financial support,
which should be independent of residents, for smaller parks in particular.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Q4. What barriers do residents face in asserting their rights through the
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.
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
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.
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
- 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
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?
- 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
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
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).
- 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.
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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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’.
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
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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
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 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.
- 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
(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.
- 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
- 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
17th November 2023.