By Richard Hand, Senior Adviser and Ibraheem Dulmeer, Legal Adviser at LEASE
LEASE provides legal advice to park home owners, site owners and local authorities on park homes law in England and Wales. This article examines some of the main features of the Mobile Homes (Wales) Act 2013 (“the Act”) and the increased protection it provides for home owners in Wales.
When did the Act come into effect?
All sections of the Act came into force on 1st October 2014 and apply to all residential parks in Wales.
A site licence is required if the owner is using land as a regulated site. Operating without a licence is an offence and an unlimited fine may be imposed by a court.
The licensing provisions apply to regulated sites apart from holiday sites. A regulated site must have at least one mobile home stationed on it for the purposes of human habitation. Schedule 1 to the Act also lists the types of site that are not regulated. These include sites owned by the local authority.
Application for Site Licence
Section 6 of the Act provides that an application may be made to the local authority. Certain information must be provided, including the land that is proposed to be licenced and the identity of the applicant. If the applicant is not the proposed manager of the site, the manager must be identified.
The local authority may require the application to be accompanied by a fixed fee. They are able to charge a fee to an applicant provided they have published their fees policy (Section 36 of the Act).The application must also include a declaration by the applicant that the manager (or applicant) is a fit and proper person to manage the site.
‘Fit and Proper Person Test’
There is a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ requirement (Section 28 of the Act) for any person proposing to apply for a licence for a residential site. An owner must not allow any part of the land to be used unless the local authority is satisfied that either the owner or person appointed by the owner or by the local authority (with the owner’s consent) is a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ to manage the site.
This will also apply during the period of the licence.
If the owner contravenes the Fit and Proper Person test during this period, the local authority may apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for an order revoking the site licence. The owner is also guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to an unlimited fine.
Decision for ‘Fit and Proper Person’
When deciding whether a site owner meets the Fit and Proper Person test, The local authority must have regard to all matters it considers appropriate including whether there is evidence that the person:
- Committed any offence involving fraud or other dishonesty, violence, firearms or drugs or any offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003
- Practised unlawful discrimination , harassment or victimisation contrary to the Equality Act 2010 in or in connection with the carrying on of any business.
- Contravention of any law relating to housing (including mobile homes) or landlord and tenant.
If an application is refused, the local authority should notify the person of the reasons for the decision and the rights of appeal. The proposed licence holder has 28 days from notification to appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal.
Breach of Condition
If the local authority considers that the owner of the land is failing or has failed to comply with a condition of the site licence, a Compliance Notice or a Fixed Penalty Notice may be served upon him, (Section 15 of the Act). The local authority will have regard to any government guidance in deciding which Notice is more appropriate.
The amount specified within the Fixed Penalty Notice must not exceed a Level 1 fine, which is £200. If a Fixed Penalty Notice has been served and not paid in accordance with the terms of the Notice, the local authority may withdraw the Notice and serve a Compliance Notice in respect of the failure.
An offence may be committed (Section 34 of the Act) if a person makes a false or misleading declaration or provides information knowing it to be false or misleading. This could apply in any circumstances regarding licensing of mobile home sites, such as an application to the local authority for a site licence.
Pitch Fee Increase
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to increase or decrease the pitch fee as opposed to the Retail Price Index (RPI) in England. The official CPI figure can be found on The Office of National Statistics website. The site must give 28 clear days’ notice of the increase by serving a Pitch Fee Review Form with a Notice in writing.
It is possible for either the site owner or home owner to apply to a Residential Property Tribunal in the event of a dispute.
The Mobile Homes (Site Rules) (Wales) Regulations 2014 outline the procedure that residential Park Owners in Wales are required to follow if any existing site rules are to remain effective after 30 September 2015 . The Regulations mirror the procedure in England.
If the site owner has not consulted with the home owners about the rules and deposited the rules with the local authority by 1 October 2015, they will no longer be in force.
This is a criminal offence which is committed by a site owner who knowingly or recklessly provides information or makes a false or misleading statement that affects a sale. In addition, the site owner must know that his actions will cause a home owner to abandon occupation of the mobile home or result in a prospective purchaser from withdrawing their offer to buy the home.
Any evidence concerning this should be recorded and forwarded to the local authority who have the power to prosecute. A fine and/or imprisonment may be imposed by a court in the event of a conviction.
Buying, Selling and gift a Park Home
The Act provides rules when purchasing, selling or gifting a mobile home. The rules on selling may be different depending on who you are purchasing the property from and when they acquired the property. For the purposes of this article the authors will not go into detail on the procedures but further information and forms can be found here:
- Mobile Homes (Wales) Act 2013 – Information Sheet
Selling and Gifting a Mobile Home in Wales
- Mobile Homes (Wales) Act 2013 – Information Sheet
Buying a Mobile Home in Wales
- Forms and processes
We recommend the use of a solicitor for both buying and selling a park home.
If you need further information on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact LEASE Park Homes Advice on 0207 832 2525.