The English Government has published the new Mobile Homes (Requirement for Manager of Site to be Fit and Proper Person) (England) Regulations 2020.
In 2019, the Government launched a technical consultation to seek views on the proposals to introduce a fit and proper person test for site operators in England as already operates in Wales.
The consultation received 370 responses which were largely in favour of the proposals. In the response to the consultation the Government committed to implementing the test in due course.
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.
The Government will also publish non-statutory guidance for both local authorities and site owners.
What does this mean for homeowners?
From 1st October 2021 the site owner must be a fit and proper person to lawfully operate a park home site or have a fit and proper site manager in place, unless the site is exempt.
What must a site owner do?
Site owners operating a relevant protected site (if not exempt) must apply to their local authority for the relevant person (themselves or their appointed manager) to be included in the local register of fit and proper persons to manage a site. A site owner may only apply if they hold or have applied for a site licence for the site.
Applications can be made from 1st July 2021
What makes a site exempt?
A 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 will the local authority consider?
To satisfy itself that the relevant person is a fit and proper person to manage the site, and, if so, add the person to the register the local authority must consider:
- The competence of the relevant person to secure the proper management of the site
- Management and financial arrangements of the site
- Prior conduct of the relevant person (E.g. criminal convictions, breaches of Equality Act 2010)
They may also consider
- Conduct of persons associated with the relevant person (through work, socially or otherwise)
- Any other relevant matters
What happens where the site owner has been unable to appoint a fit and proper site manager?
The local authority and site owner may agree that the local authority appoint a person who meets the fit and proper person test to manage the site on behalf of the site owner.
What information is included on the register?
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.
How long can someone be included on the register?
A person can be on the register for up to 5 years.
What happens to the register if an application is rejected?
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.
What can a site owner/operator do if he is unhappy with the decision?
A site owner 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
- any condition attached to inclusion on the register
- any rejection of an application for inclusion on the register
What happens if the site continues to operate without satisfying the fit and proper person test?
Operating a site in contravention of these 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 court that has convicted a relevant person of an offence under these regulations can also revoke a site licence where the person has been convicted of two or more previous breaches for the same site.