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Fit and Proper Person Test, England: Countdown to Implementation

What is the Fit & Proper Person Test?

The Fit and Proper Person Test is an assessment carried out by the local authority to assess the suitability of site owners or their managers (“relevant person”) to manage a park homes site.

After carrying out the assessment, the local authority must be satisfied that the site owner is:

  • a fit and proper person to manage the site;
  • or, (if the site owner doesn’t manage the site) that the person appointed to be the manager is fit and proper to do so.

When do the new regulations come into force?

The regulations will be brought into force in two stages:

  • Stage one will give local authorities in England until 1st July 2021 to prepare to receive applications from site owners (or “occupiers”), establish their processes for making and issuing decisions, and establish a fit and proper person register for their local area.
  • Stage two will provide 3 months from the end of Stage 1 for site owners/licence holders to submit completed applications to local authorities. The deadline for applications is 1st October 2021.

Where can I find the relevant law?

The relevant law is contained in the Mobile Homes (Requirement for Manager of Site to be a Fit and Proper Person) (England) Regulations 2020.

Will the test apply to all sites?

The new regulations apply in England to fully residential or mixed use sites. They do not apply to holiday-only sites or non-commercial family occupied sites. In Wales similar rules have been in force since 2014.

park home site is exempt if it is “a non-commercial family-occupied site”. That is one only occupied by members of the same family and that is not being run on a commercial basis.

What must a local authority do now?

The local authority must be ready to receive and assess applications by 1st July 2021. They must also maintain a register of all fit and proper persons in their area.

The government has published non-statutory guidance to local authorities on how to apply the “fit and proper person” test.

What must a site owner do now?

Once the application window is open the site owner must submit an application to be assessed. The application must be submitted by 1st October 2021.

What does the test cover?

‘Fit and proper’ is not defined in law, however the local authority must have regard to the following factors when carrying out the assessment:

  1. Whether the relevant person can properly manage the site and comply with site licence conditions
  2. The experience of the person, management structure and financing of the site
  3. Whether the manager or owner has committed any criminal offences of fraud, dishonesty, arson, violence, drugs or certain sexual offences.
  4. Whether the relevant person has breached any laws relating to housing, landlord and tenant, public health, environmental health or planning law
  5. Whether they have breached any provisions of the Equality Act 2010 or committed an offence of harassment.
  6. Whether they have become insolvent or disqualified as a company director in the past 10 years
  7. Whether they have the right to work in the UK
  8. And whether they are a member of a redress scheme

The Local Authority can also take account of the conduct of any associated persons as well as any other matter they consider relevant to the application.

If a resident thinks a manager is not fit and proper, will the Local Authority take this into account?

The Local Authority may consider other evidence in their assessment, including evidence from residents. However, this is a power not a duty.

What if a site owner or manager fails the test?

If the site owner fails the test they will be given the opportunity to identify and appoint a suitable alternative manager. If they are unable to do this the local authority will consider whether it is possible to appoint a person to manage the site, with the site licence holder’s consent.

Where an application is rejected, the name and address of the site will be included on the register but not the person’s name or business contact details. Like other registers, local authorities will be required to make the register available to the public and online.

If the site owner is not happy with the outcome of the test they can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) against a decision to:

  • to include the relevant person on the register for a period less than 5 years
  • attach or vary a condition to an entry on the register
  • remove a person from the register

Is it an offence to operate a site without a fit and proper manager in place?

Operating a site in contravention of the regulations is a criminal offence, for which a person would be liable on summary conviction to an unlimited fine. It is also an offence for an occupier to withhold information from or include false or misleading information in a registration application.

A Local Authority can apply to the FTT for a site licence to be revoked where there has been a contravention of the regulations by the licence holder. A local authority can also apply to the court to revoke a licence if a site owner is convicted on two or more previous occasions for operating a site without they or their appointed manager having been assessed by the local authority as a fit and proper person.

What if there is a delay in a Local Authority assessing the application?

A site owner who has made an application in accordance with the regulations will be able to continue to operate the site until the application has been determined by the Local Authority

Will the register be available for public inspection?

Anyone can inspect the register in person during office hours and online to see if a site owner/manager is fit and proper

Can the Local Authority charge a fee for applications?

Yes. The government has published non-statutory guidance to local authorities on setting a fee policy. The regulations give Local Authorities the power to charge application and annual fees to be included on the register.

Can the fee be passed on to residents through the pitch fee?

Yes. If the Local Authority charges the site owner a fee this could be passed onto residents through the pitch fee.

 

More information:

 

 

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

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.