By Rawdon Crozier, barrister from KBG Chambers and Ibraheem Dulmeer, Legal Adviser at LEASE
What rights and protections do park home residents have on sites with residential, holiday and mixed-used licences under the current legislation? What responsibilities do park site owners have?
Home owners and park owners are sometimes unclear as to whether a unit is protected under the mobile homes legislation. This protection depends upon whether the site is a residential site, a holiday site or a mixed use site. This article examines the differences between these types of sites and the rights of home owners.
The Mobile Homes Act 1983 gives a number of rights and protections to park home owners who occupy the home as their own 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. In this situation, the home owner will have the protection of the Act.
Where the planning permission permits only holiday use or restricts occupation for a specified period e.g. 11 months of the year, the occupiers will not be protected by the Mobile Homes Act 1983. This means that they do not have rights provided by the legislation, e.g. the right to receive a Written Statement. The site owner is still required to obtain a site licence by applying to the local authority (Section 3 of Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960).
Mixed use sites
A mixed use site is one which is licenced for both residential and holiday use, in other words it is a permanent residential site, on which residence is permitted throughout the year, but which also includes holiday home pitches. It may be regarded as a protected site if there are no restrictions concerning its usage.
How the legislation applies to mixed-use sites
A mixed use site is also subject to the licensing provisions within the Mobile Homes Act 2013, according to Government guidance – see the Department of Communities and Local Government Paper entitled ‘A Guide for Local Authorities on setting licensing fees.’ The guidance says that sites which are of mixed use fall within the definition of relevant protected sites.
“Relevant protected sites” have a similar definition to “protected sites” within the Mobile Homes Act 1983. The difference is that a “relevant protected site” does not include a local authority site. The definition specifies that the site must not be exclusively for holiday use or subject to conditions which prevent homes being stationed permanently. This means that the local authorities can impose charges for licensing applications and annual fees as well as increased enforcement powers i.e. the use of compliance notices in the case of non-compliance of a licensing condition.
The Department of Communities and Local Government Paper entitled ‘Definition of Relevant Protected Sites’ provides that the licensing regime only applies to relevant protected sites. The guidance specifies the type of sites that are covered by the Mobile Homes Act 2013. It provides that a mixed use site is a relevant protected site as the consent is not exclusively for holiday use. There is an important exception to this rule, namely that if a holiday site has permission for residential use but that use is only by the site owner (including family members) or employees working on the site – their permanent occupation, does not make the site a relevant protected site. However, if an employee occupies the home under an agreement to which the Mobile Homes Act 1983 applies, the employee will be a residential occupier and the site will be a “relevant protected site”.
The guidance also states that in situations where there is a conflict between the planning permission and licence, it is the planning permission which will determine whether the site is a relevant protected site. Section 3(3) of Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, provides that a site licence is only issued if the land has planning permission for use as a caravan site. A conflict may arise if the site was originally a holiday park, but has changed to residential status by the granting of the planning permission. In these circumstances, the site will be a “relevant protected site” even if the site licence has not been changed to residential use.
Before deciding whether to buy a lodge home, prospective buyers should check 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 conditions will confirm whether the home is for holiday or residential use. Local authorities are also legally obliged (Section 25 of Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960) to maintain an accurate register of the site licences in their area and it is recommended that the register show the type of site: i.e. holiday, mixed use or residential. Be aware holiday homes on mixed use sites probably only have the same protection as those on holiday sites; the law is not clear.