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Qualifying Residents’ Associations: practice, procedure and formation

october legalIn 2006 the law relating to residential parks changed and it became possible to establish a Qualifying Residents’ Association. Nick Dyson, partner at Blacks Solicitors LLP, and Ibraheem Dulmeer, legal advisor at The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), address some common QRA-related questions

So what is a Qualifying Residents’ Association (QRA)?
It’s best described as a group of residents who work together to represent the interests of residents on a park. A QRA can operate in a number of ways including consulting with the park owner about issues which are affecting the residents on the park and arranging social activities.

How do you form a QRA?
Practically speaking it would be best to make enquiries with fellow residents to see if there is any interest in establishing a QRA. Perhaps arrange a meeting and notify all home owners of the date and time so a discussion can be held about making the necessary arrangements to form a QRA.

It will then be important to see if you can meet the following conditions which are required to establish a QRA:

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Home help

september legalWe speak to Anthony Essien, CEO of the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), to see how this organisation now offers help and advice to park home owners

In some ways, owning a park home is a bit like owning a leasehold flat. In both cases you don’t own the land in which your home is situated, usually having to pay some type of ground rent to either the freeholder of the building (in the case of a flat) or as pitch fees to the park owner (in the case of a park home). The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) is a non-departmental public body that is funded by the Government to provide free legal advice to leaseholders, landlords, professional advisors, managers and others. The advice covers the law affecting residential leasehold in England and Wales.

Recognising that park home tenure is very similar to leasehold tenure, LEASE now also offers advice to park home owners, site managers and others. To get help, you can either write to LEASE, send an email, call its helpline, or attend its London offices in person. The organisation also runs a website for park home owners with advice guides that can be downloaded, plus the latest news relating to park home ownership.

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Commission commotion

Commission commotionMembers of the Park Home Owners’ Justice Campaign held a rally at Westminster on 2 July and presented a petition at No. 10 Downing Street calling for a review of the commission charge on park home sales

The Mobile Homes Act 2013 addressed most of the concerns that residents had expressed about their relationship with their park owners. However, there was one matter that did not receive the Government’s attention in that legislation – the payment of ‘up to 10 per cent’ of the sale price of a park home to the site owner when a resident sells his/her home.

The Park Home Owners’ Justice Campaign, headed up by Sonia McColl OBE felt this statement needed to be challenged. The Justice Campaign argues that when the last economic survey of the park homes industry was undertaken, park operators did not show proper audited accounts to prove their earnings. Also, it queries how the commission payments can be vital to the survival of park-owning businesses when such income is so random. For example, it could happen that there are no sales at all on a park in any one year (and, hence, no commission payments to the park owner) but in other years there may be several.

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Minister sees ‘no need to review commission’

Minister sees ‘no need to review commission’At an adjournment debate on park homes, called by Annette Brooke MP, discussions ranged over many subjects but especially pitch fees and commission. The Minister’s response was that there was no need to review commission at this time

Park homes were the subject of an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall on 13 May, called by Annette Brooke (MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole).

In welcoming the Mobile Homes Act 2013, which she agreed went a long way towards rebalancing the rights of park home owners and park owners, she commented that, as certain parts are being implemented at different times, it was difficult to judge its effectiveness. She questioned whether the DCLG had effectively communicated the new rights that residents now enjoy to them and in particular how the new legislation on sale blocking was being monitored and enforced.

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Park home roadshow

Park home roadshowThis year’s Park Home Roadshows, where park home residents have the opportunity to speak to park home legal experts, kicked off with an event at Sonning Common, near Reading, on 10 April. Steve Rowe went along to see what was on people’s minds…

If you’ve not heard of them before, the Park Home Roadshows have been running for several years, giving the opportunity for park home residents all over the UK to meet a panel of park home experts. The focus is very much on the rights of park home residents, as opposed to site owners, and the roadshows are an independent forum for residents to discuss issues that are affecting them on their park home sites, as well as hearing speeches from a panel of legal experts.

WHO ORGANISES THE ROADSHOWS?

The leading light behind the inviting representatives from each park to come along to the event.

Typically these representatives will be members of the residents association on their respective parks, so are fully aware of all the issues affecting their fellow residents.

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A small price to pay

A small price to payEstimates that the charges to be passed on to residents for the issuing of site licences in future indicate amounts between £4 and £13 per annum

Kris Hopkins MP, Minister of State for Housing, addressed a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Welfare of Park Home Residents at the beginning of March. Although new to his role, he said he was not new to park homes as he had three ‘significant parks’ in his constituency (Keighley, West Yorkshire).

Speaking about the Mobile Homes Act 2013, he paid tribute to Peter Aldous MP for guiding it through, adding that it had achieved several significant benefits for residents.

Need for transparency
Firstly, he talked about transparency regarding fees charged to residents and also about the freedom that residents now enjoyed in being able to bring goods or services to the park without the park owner’s permission.

He also mentioned that residents now had the right to be consulted about site rules and that, when agreed, those rules had to be lodged with the local authority.

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