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Mobile Homes Bill

NovLegalThe second reading of the Mobile Homes Bill will be happening soon. Its sponsor, Peter Aldous MP, gives a sneak preview of some of its contents

The second reading of the Mobile Homes Bill, introduced by Peter Aldous MP (Waveney) was due to take place on 19 October. However, some residents got a sneak preview of its contents when Mr Aldous addressed a road show event organised by park home insurance specialist Towergate in early September.

A panel of speakers, including Mr Aldous, spoke to the residents at the event, which was held in Needham Market, Suffolk.

Mr Aldous told attendees that he couldn’t set out the exact detail of what is in his Mobile Homes Bill ‘We have one draft at present,’ he said, ’and there may be things that need to be tweaked and the protocol is that the first people to know the detail should be inside rather than outside Parliament.’

‘It has been difficult to draft,’ he said, ‘because you are amending three Acts of Parliament and we are changing the legislation in England but Scotland and Wales are going ahead with their own legislation.’

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Residents reinforce resolve

OctLegalPark home residents from the south-west gathered in Exeter to draw attention to the urgent need for all residents to persuade their constituency MPs to support the second reading of the Mobile Homes Bill

Residents feel very strongly about the practice of ‘sale blocking’ by park owners as was evidenced by the large attendance at a rally held in Exeter at the end of July. Organised by the JBS Residents’ Action Alliance, it took place in a square in the heart of Exeter’s pedestrianised shopping area, and attracted the attention not only of park home residents who had come together from parks all over the south-west, but also of some of the shoppers, too, who paused to listen. Afterwards, some of those shoppers came forward to find out more, commenting that they had no idea of the abuses that people living in park homes experience and were surprised that the agencies responsible were not more pro-active in protecting elderly residents from exploitation.

Fortunately, the sun shone throughout this open-air event which was attended by about 140 nominated delegates from retirement parks in the area. Many had large banners and placards with them while others wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘Rogues Out – Criminals Out’.

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Strength in numbers

SeptLegalSpeakers at the first National Park Home Owners’ Congress welcomed proposed new park home legislation

The ‘fit and proper person test’ for park owners and whether or not it was likely to be included in the proposed new legislation was raised by Stephen Gilbert MP when he addressed the first National Park Home Owners’ Congress, in Birmingham on 30 June.

Mr Gilbert MP (St Austell and Newquay) had introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill on this topic in the House of Commons last year and he still holds the view that a ‘fit and proper person test’ should be applied to the park’s licence holder. His argument is that anyone in charge of accommodation where a number of owners are elderly and potentially vulnerable should be ‘fit and proper’.

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Getting tough

AugLegal Parliamentary Select Committee which was set up to look into park homes has now collected evidence and produced a report which recommends some quite radical changes to legislation and regulation.

Such was the level of complaints that MPs had been receiving from their park home resident constituents that on December 21 last year the Government launched a Select Committee Inquiry into park homes, with written evidence being called for by 1 February this year. Despite a short response time, 338 replies were received, the contents of which prompted the Select Committee to call specialist witnesses to elaborate on some of the topics raised.

Four oral evidence sessions were held, with park owners, park home residents, national residents’ associations, organisations representing park owners, trading standards representatives, the police aand consumer protection organisations participating. Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, answered questions from the Committee at the final session.

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New legislation stands on a knife edge

julylegal“It is a question of educating park home residents themselves about what the rules are.”

Housing Minister Grant Shapps spoke to the All Party Parliamentary Group about the consultation document and his hopes that new legislation to fully protect park home residents may go ahead as a Private Member’s Bill

Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, attended the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Welfare of Park Home Residents held in mid May, when there were still two weeks left to run on the consultation document issued by his department (see pp. 98/99 June PH&HC).

He said that he thought that park home residents had had a raw deal for far too long but this consultation document (unlike others in the past) was very comprehensive. ‘The top line,’ he added, ‘is that I believe we have to drive the rogues from the market to prevent them from abusing park home owners.’

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Commission on Park Home Sales

MayLegal“We are thinking of selling our park home, so that we can move to a new site near the coast. We plan to sell privately, through an estate agent. Is it right that we will have to pay 10% or the sale price of our home to the park owner?”

 

This is quite a contentious issue and one that often makes park home owners unhappy. By law, a park owner is allowed to charge up to 10% commission on the sale of a park home. So, if you sell your home for £150,000, you may have to pay £15,000 to the park owner (there is no VAT payable on this commission). Of course, the park owner can charge less than this if they want, but this is rare.

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