The Government has published its response to the technical consultation, Mobile homes: a fit and proper person test for park home sites.
In 2018 the government gave a commitment to introduce a fit and proper test, subject to a technical consultation, to help local authorities target the worst offenders in the park homes sector. The aim of the consultation was to gather information from stakeholders to ensure that the test would operate to the benefit of residents, and not unduly burden responsible site owners.
The consultation was carried out between 25th July and 17th September 2019 and received 370 responses from stakeholders which were largely in favour of the proposals.
The government’s response to the consultation sets out proposals which will require all site licence holders to apply either on behalf of themselves or their appointed site manager to the relevant local authority for inclusion on a fit and proper person register.
The fit and proper person regulations will set out the prescribed matters a local authority must consider when determining a person’s fitness to manage a site, in addition to other matters that the authority considers relevant to the person’s fitness. The proposed test builds on, and is consistent with, the matters local authorities must already consider when granting or transferring site licences in order to assess an applicant’s capability and suitability to manage a site.
The local authority will assess the application and decide either to include the applicant on the register unconditionally, include the applicant on the register with conditions that must be met, or that the person has not met the test and so will not be included on the register. If a site operator or their appointed site manager fails to meet the test, the site operator will have a limited grace period in which to submit another application for an alternative site manager to be assessed for inclusion on the register.
Where an application for inclusion has been successful, a local authority can include a person in the register for up to 5 years. The fit and proper person’s name and business contact details, as well as the name and address of the site, and whether a condition has been attached, will all be included on the register. 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.
When the fit and proper person requirement is in force, it will be an offence for a site operator to cause or permit land to be operated as a residential caravan site unless the local authority is satisfied that the occupier or the appointed site manager is a fit and proper person to manage the site.
Where neither the site operator nor their appointed manager is a fit and proper person, no alternative fit and proper manager is appointed by the site operator, and an appointee cannot be agreed between the site operator and the local authority, enforcement action could be taken by the local authority. On conviction for breach of the requirement to have a fit and proper person in place, the site operator would be liable for an unlimited fine. In addition, where the requirement has been breached, the local authority may apply for the site licence to be revoked, regardless of whether the site owner has been convicted in court of the breach.