Advice on Buying a Park Home
Can I live on a holiday park?
From an insurance perspective, we don’t mind if you opt to live on a holiday park, or a residential park. However, certain holiday parks have been granted a 10 or 11 month licence by the council; many clients assert that because of this they have the right to live permanently on the holiday park and then go on holiday during the closed period.
The fact the park has a 10 or 11 month licence does not give you the right to live on the site permanently and you have no right in law to do so. There are even holiday parks with 12 month licences but these are not residential parks. You are only legally allowed to live on true residential parks all year round. You can find out whether a park is a holiday park or a residential park by reading the site licence, which is normally displayed at the park entrance or park office. Alternatively, you can contact the local planning office who will advise you.
If this is your main residence you need to disclose this fact to your local council and pay council tax, but once again this does not give you a legal right.
If the park is a holiday park, you are governed by the park rules and regulations which are renewed annually. This means that you could buy a holiday home and live in it, insure it and pay council tax on it for many years and then at the renewal of the park licence, find out the park has been sold and the new owners want to remove all the holiday homes and sell the land for redevelopment.
This is a very risky venture and you have no protection under law. The park home and holiday caravan magazines are full of examples of this happening and unfortunately, you will have no one to blame but yourself, as it is after all just a holiday park meant to be used for holidays only.
By purchasing a park home on a residential park you will be protected by an act of law called the Mobile Homes Act. It is specifically designed for people living in mobile/park homes on a residential park. This act of law does not protect you when living on a holiday park.
Typically, purchasing a park home on a holiday park will cost less than on a residential park. This is for two reasons: firstly a residential park has the added protection of the Mobile Homes Act, and secondly the occupational agreement will have no end date (a period of imperpetuity) whereas a holiday park occupational licence will have a set period of occupation such as 10, 15, 25 or 50 years.
Do I need to get a survey or instruct a solicitor when buying a park home?
If you are buying a second-hand park home we would certainly recommend that you instruct a specialist park home surveyor to carry out an inspection of your park home. You are going to be spending a lot of money and you want to make sure that you avoid many of the pitfalls that are well known to people in the industry – and so easily avoidable should you get a surveyor involved. This will not protect you from every possible problem but it will weed out a lot of them and give you peace of mind.
If the home is brand new, then it isn’t really necessary as you will be protected by the Sale of Goods Act, and it is likely that your park home also has a manufacturer’s structural warranty.
Instructing a solicitor isn’t totally necessary either as you can carry out all the research yourself. There is no stamp duty to pay on a park home, and there are no searches required. There are many solicitors who do not understand park homes, so it can be a lot of money for not a lot of help. However, if you are concerned then it won’t hurt.
The latest problem that is plaguing the industry is when someone is sold a park home or a holiday lodge that is situated on a holiday park with a 12 month holiday leisure licence; the impression is given (although never stated) that you can live on the park all year round and potential clients think this makes it a residential park. It’s not; it’s a 12 month holiday park. Unfortunately for many people the first they realise this is when they come to insure the home, and we inform them that we cannot insure them as they are living on a holiday park and breaking the rules. Of course a surveyor and solicitor would have found this out and saved them all this hassle. You can check this yourself by doing your own due diligence and contacting the local council to check the licence of the park.
Here is some important research to carry out before committing to buying a park home:
- Is the site a residential or holiday park?
This can be easily established, but do not take the word of the person selling to you. There should be Site Licence displayed at the entrance of the park or the site office. Ask for a copy and read it to see if this provides the comfort you need. You can also contact the local planning office to find out. If it is a residential park, you will be issued with a Mobile Homes Act Agreement, which is only available for residential parks. If that is not what will be issued then it probably isn’t a residential park and you will have no legal rights to live on the park.
- What is the park owner/operator like?
Find out the name of the park owner/operator and spend some time on the internet to see what you can find out about them; you’ll be surprised what information is available. You should also go on to the park and speak to the residents – they are sure to tell you what they’re like.
- Does the park flood/is it in a flood plain?
The Environment Agency is a good place to research. Alternatively contact insurers like ourselves to obtain quotations for the park(s) you are considering. If you can’t get cover, or the cover excludes flood protection, you’ve found your answer.
- Does the home come with a manufacturer’s structural warranty?
Never assume it does just because a manufacturer states that it provides a structural warranty: there are schemes where the warranty is only effective on selected parks. You will be protected by the Sale of Goods Act for the first 12 months, but any extended warranty will be conditional that your home is on the right park. At Park Home Assist we have been providing some of the UK’s leading manufacturers with a fully insured structural warranty regardless of the park on which the home is sited. You can find more information on the Platinum Seal warranty here.