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Buying a park home – things to consider

Have you ever bought something that turned out not to be what you wanted? We all know how horrible that feels. How can you make sure you get the right home for your needs and avoid potential pitfalls?

In this article we will talk you through some of the things you should consider before you decide to buy a park home, and what you should be aware of during the buying process.

3 ESSENTIAL POINTERS you should consider before buying a residential park home:

  • If you want the park to be your permanent home you should look for a full residential licence – don’t assume that a 12-month holiday licence is the same, it may not be.
  • Check the site licence, written agreement, and park rules carefully before signing. Consulting a solicitor to check them for you is strongly advisable.
  • If you are buying a second-hand home, a survey may be beneficial.

How does park homeownership work?

Park Home is the commonly used term for a mobile home that is located on a protected site. Park homes are a unique form of homeownership – Unlike a traditional property, a park homeowner owns the structure of the home itself but not the ground it is located on.

Instead of owning the land the home sits on most park homeowners rent a pitch from a site owner. The pitch fee is typically paid monthly, but this can vary from site to site.

The owner of the park home site must have planning permission and a site licence issued by the local authority. The site licence will state whether the site is a holiday site or fully residential. In some instances, the licence may allow both permanent and holiday homes.

Mobile homes law gives a number of rights and protections to park homeowners who occupy their home as their only or main residence if it is situated on a protected site. A protected site is a privately owned park where the relevant planning permission or site licence allows the land to be occupied wholly, or in part, for year-round residential use.

Do you need to use a solicitor when buying a park home?

Like any other home purchase, buying a park home is a major commitment. If you are looking to buy a park home we recommend that you use a solicitor to guide you through the purchase.

Although using professionals such as solicitors and surveyors is not compulsory for park home transactions, they can highlight any potential problems at an early stage and provide peace of mind to both sides.

If you choose to use a solicitor, you should find someone that is independent from the seller or site owner. If you are looking for a solicitor with experience of park homes you can use the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor page.

New or pre-owned park home?

If you are planning to buy a park home you might be interested in looking at both new and pre-owned homes.

There are plenty of differences between new and pre-owned homes. A big selling point to new homes is that they typically require less maintenance than pre-owned homes. As new park homes are built from scratch they will, on the whole, be in better shape than pre-owned homes.

Older park homes, in general, are also not as well-insulated as modern properties. As a result modern park homes can be better equipped to handle the cold and changes in weather. This is a good point to look for if you are planning to live in the park home all year round.

With this said, buying a new park homes are considerably more expensive than buying a pre-owned home. If you are buying a park home on a budget, you may want to look at pre-owned properties before you start making offers.

If you plan to buy a pre-owned park home you will need to do more research and ask questions of the seller. For second-hand homes you may also wish to get a survey report from a specialist park home surveyor.

Should you get a survey done on the park home?

If you are planning to buy a park home you may wish to get a survey report from a specialist park home surveyor. Although it isn’t compulsory, it is a good idea to assess the condition of any park home you are looking to buy. Whether you buy a new or pre-owned home, a survey will help you to understand the maintenance that will be required once you move in.

If you decide to get a survey, the surveyor will undertake thorough examinations of the inside, outside and underneath of the home. After the survey they will provide you with a full report which will let you know of any issues that require repair or maintenance. The results of any survey of the mobile home, base or pitch which the seller carries out must be provided by the seller if this was completed within 12 months of the sale.

For second-hand homes you may wish to get a survey report as it will help you budget for any maintenance or repair work you will need to carry out.

Can you live in the park home all year round?

If you want to purchase a fully residential park home, it is important to ensure that the site is a “protected site”, which is a permanent residential site. It is important to check this information as different sites have varying levels of protection under the mobile homes legislation. The protection a site has depends upon whether the site is a residential site, a holiday site or a mixed-use site.

Before you decide to buy a park home you should carefully read the site licence and conditions; both should be displayed in a prominent place on the site, e.g. on a noticeboard near the entrance. The site licence and conditions will confirm whether the home is for holiday or residential use, and will usually have conditions for:

  • how many homes can be in the park?
  • services and amenities
  • health and safety

If you cannot find the site licence, you can get a copy from the local authority. The local authority must keep a register of site licences and the register must be open to the public at all reasonable times.

If you are looking at buying a park home on a mixed-use site you should look closely at the pitch agreement before purchasing. Some unwitting purchasers have bought homes as a permanent abode only to find out later that they can only live in it for a limited period of the year. For this reason it is important to make sure that the park you’re looking at has the correct licence and terms in the pitch agreement for the way you intend to use the home.

This guide is not meant to describe or give a full interpretation of the law. Nor does it cover every case. If you are in any doubt about your rights and duties then seek specific advice. For preliminary advice on buying or selling permanent residential park homes, contact the Park Homes Advice team at LEASE on 020 7832 2525 or write to us.

LEASE is governed by a board, appointed as individuals by the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

WARNING ADVICE TO RESIDENTS

You DO NOT NEED to sign a new pitch agreement if your site owner changes. Your existing terms and conditions will stay the same if the site is sold.

If you are asked to sign a new agreement get advice from LEASE or a solicitor before doing so.