Beware of Rogue Traders

Householders need to be vigilant regarding roofers and other trades people who knock on your door uninvited.

Retirement Living

Retirement Living

Retirement may present you with the opportunity to change your lifestyle. You can escape the routine and constraints imposed by your working life for something less hectic, more relaxing or more peaceful.  You can decide to take up a hobby or pursue an interest that you’ve never had the time to do before.

Many more people are now choosing to move to a different home when they retire – escaping to the country or a seaside location.  Downsizing also reduces the responsibilities and costs of owning and maintaining a larger home, freeing up income and time for you to enjoy.  A residential park could be the ideal place for you when you retire and a park home could provide you with a little bit of everything.

What are the benefits of living on a residential park?

Park home living offers a unique lifestyle choice, with a laid-back, quiet and relaxing atmosphere.  It is growing in popularity and boasts great community living.  Park homes are affordable to own, with furnishings and appliances already included. Maintaining your park home can be a lot easier than regular bricks and mortar, making it the perfect low-cost solution for retired people.

There are social benefits too!  You will be living amongst people of a similar age, who may have similar interests and the time to enjoy them. This is just one of many reasons to choose park home living.

Independent living and a relaxing life.

Living in a park home provides completely independent living and is nothing like living in a retirement home, as some may think. Many residential parks have a minimum age of 50 or even 45. You are living in a community and surrounded by people who are like-minded, not noisy or disturbing neighbours.  You will be away from a town centre, so you are not situated in the middle of the normal hustle and bustle of town living, but close enough to just pop into town to go shopping or access the amenities if you want to. In addition, being closer to the countryside allows you to enjoy it much more easily.

Location of your park home?

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a park home is the location. Park homes can be in some really stunning locations, tucked away in the country or by the coast.  You may want a home that has easy transport links to friends and family or one from which you can easily explore nearby places. Take the time to look carefully into different locations that may be suitable for your needs.

What is security like in a residential park home?

Some parks have security, CCTV and could even be gated to give you that added security.

Where can I view park homes for sale?

You can view park homes for sale on Park Home Search where you can also find a list of open days and weekends.   On Park Home Search there are contact details for park operators and manufacturers, which you can contact directly, if you choose.  Every park is different, so make an appointment and visit the park yourself.  This gives you an opportunity to meet the residents and get some feedback, along with getting a good feel for the park and its atmosphere.

Something to think about.

Sit down and think about exactly what you are looking for. Downsizing can be a practical choice when choosing a new home for your retirement and can mark the beginning of a new phase in your life.  A single storey park home could be the perfect home for your retirement, especially as your physical needs will change as you get older. Your dream retirement home will enable you to enjoy life and could also take care of your future needs, as well as any current preferences. It can significantly reduce your living costs and release funds, so you can really enjoy your retirement.

For more tips on park home living and to keep up to date with park home related news, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

 

 

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Residential Parks and Holiday Parks – What’s the Difference?

If you’re thinking of buying a park home, one of the decisions you need to make is whether you choose a residential park or a holiday park.

Right of permanent residence

The key difference is that you have no right of permanent residence on a holiday park – so your main residence needs to be elsewhere.  The opening times of a holiday park are governed by the licence that it has been granted by the local council, so you may find that it is closed for one or two months a year, or that you can only stay there for a maximum number of weeks at a time.  Even if a holiday park is open for 12 months of the year, it does not mean that you can live there permanently.

Of course, your choice of a residential park or holiday park for your park home depends on how you want to use your home – both now and in the future.  A holiday park may have mixed use accommodation – such as holiday lodges, static caravans and holiday caravans so this may influence your choice.  Also, check the terms of the licence to find out whether sub-letting is permitted.

Cost considerations

Buying a home on a holiday park is likely to cost less than the equivalent home on a residential park. One of the reasons for this is that the occupational licence covers a specific time period (for example 10,15,25 or 50 years) while the occupational agreement for a residential park has no end date (a period of perpetuity).

Also, a home on a holiday park is not subject to council tax as it is not your sole or main residence. The local authority may need confirmation that you pay your council tax elsewhere.

Consumer protection

On the other hand, homes on holiday parks are not protected by the Mobile Homes Act 2013, while homes on residential parks are. The Mobile Homes Act 2013 was designed to provide better protection for park home owners, and provide the legal framework to allow honest and professional site owners to operate successfully without unfair competition from rogue traders.

A park home owner owns their home, but pays a fee to the park owner to site their home on their land. Amongst other things, the Mobile Homes Act 2013 introduced new rules on reviewing pitch fees so that unscrupulous site owners do not take unfair advantage of residents. In 2017, the Government carried out a review of the Mobile Homes Act 2013 and has recently published its findings. You can access them here: Mobile Homes Act 2013 Review.

You can also find further information on  buying a park home on our website and see park homes for sale.

For more tips on park home living and to keep up to date with park home related news, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

 

winter preperation

Now that the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder, the focus shifts from al fresco dining to cosy nights in! Autumn and winter can still provide great opportunities for relaxing and enjoying your park home, whether it’s pub lunches, countryside walks, wildlife spotting or a bracing stroll along the beach. Now’s a good time to plan ahead and take a few precautions to ensure that your park home is protected against the winter weather and still provides a cosy retreat.

Ten tips for preparing your park home for winter

  1. Check your roof and repair or replace any broken tiles
  2. Clear drains and gutters to avoid any blockages – do this regularly if you’re surrounded by trees as leaves and debris can build up quickly
  3. Visit the environment agency website to check if your park home is at risk of flooding
  4. Install insulation to prevent heat escaping through the roof
  5. Have your boiler checked to identify any issues before it gets too cold
  6. Keep your park home warm and the heating on whenever you can to avoid frozen pipes – see our blog post about preventing escape of water from your park home 
  7. Be sure to know where your stopcock is in case you need to turn off the water in your park home quickly
  8. Repair any dripping taps
  9. Seal any gaps around the edges of doors and windows to prevent draughts – but still try to maintain some ventilation
  10. If you’re not going to be staying in your park home as often, then check your park home insurance policy for clauses relating to unoccupancy. You can review Park Home Assist Park Home Insurance policy documents here

Taking these simple steps could help to avoid the stress and hassle of having to make an insurance claim. It is also worthwhile saving your insurance provider’s contact details on your phone in case of an emergency.

Wrap up well and stay safe and warm this winter.

park home assist news

As we approach the winter, the risk of damage to your park home from frost and ice increases. It is therefore very important to be aware of any conditions of your park home insurance policy, especially if you are spending less time at your park home.

If your park home is unoccupied for more than 48 hours during the period between 1st November and 31st March (both days inclusive) to reduce the risk from escape of water, and in order to fulfil policy conditions, we recommend that you drain down the entire water system as a precaution to prevent freezing and any potential damage this may cause.

How to drain the hot and cold water system of a combi boiler

  • Turn off and/or extinguish your water heater/boiler
  • Turn off the mains water supply at the entrance to your park home
  • Run all the taps in the property and flush all toilets until water stops coming out
  • If you have a hot water cylinder, empty it by opening the drain-cock at its base, attach a hosepipe to the drain-cock and run the water into a drain or bucket
  • Empty the rising main, and any low pipework if applicable, by opening their drain-cocks
  • When all water tanks are empty, leave both hot and cold taps fully open with plugs removed throughout your park home
  • Put salt into the toilet pans to prevent water in the trap from freezing 

If your park home has a sealed heating system containing antifreeze, then the heating system does not need to be drained down, but antifreeze levels must be checked annually and particularly prior to a period of unoccupancy. However, you will still need to turn off the water supply and drain the water system. 

When can the water supply remain on?

Alternatively, you may leave the water supply turned on under the following circumstances:

  • When the entire home benefits from a heating system (either gas or oil-fired central heating, a geothermal or full electric system – not night storage heaters), which is fitted with automatic controls and a separate thermostat. The system must be set to operate continuously for 24 hours of each day (not controlled by a timing device) and the thermostat set to not less than 13 degrees Celsius. In addition, all internal doors must remain open throughout the park home and where fitted, the loft hatch must be left open.
  • When your park home has either a gas or oil-fired central heating system, a geothermal or full electric system and it is fitted with a ‘frost stat’ that is designed and installed to override all the heating controls, irrespective of their functional status, then this must be set to operate at no less than 4 degrees Celsius.

Other things to consider

If you leave your park home without an occupant for 60 consecutive days or more, then you must ensure that a responsible person is appointed to supervise and check the property both internally and externally at least once every 30 days.

In addition, when the park home is left without an occupant for 60 consecutive days then valuables are excluded from your park home insurance cover.

If you have any queries about the conditions of your park home insurance policy, then visit our park home insurance FAQs page, see our park home insurance policy booklet or call our customer service team on 01604 946 722.

For more tips on park homes and to keep up to date with park home related news, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

fire safety

 A fire in a park home can be devastating, so being prepared and maintaining fire safety is very important, especially because of the materials used to manufacture park homes. Having a fire safety plan and the right equipment in your park home to deal with a fire should it occur, is essential.

Although you cannot completely protect your home from fire, you can significantly reduce the risk of one breaking out, if you follow the following fire safety tips:

  1. Fit and maintain a smoke alarm in your home. Smoke alarms really do save lives! Test it regularly and replace the batteries at least twice a year. If your fire alarm starts beeping, it’s time to change the batteries. Putting your smoke alarm in the right place is essential. Try not to have it too close to the kitchen, as it may be triggered by making toast or steam from cooking, for example. Not only will this be annoying, but you may think a real warning is a false alarm. The best place to position a smoke alarm is on the ceiling in the hallway, near where you sleep.
  1. Check electrical appliances regularly for any signs of damage and ensure they are replaced or repaired properly. If you have too many plugs in one socket, this could overload the socket and cause a fire, so one plug per socket is usually best. Unplug appliances when you are not using them and before you go to bed.
  1. Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking fat, as this can catch fire very quickly, and never put water on hot fat. Make sure that cooking equipment is completely switched off when you have finished with it.
  1. If you are a smoker, make sure all cigarettes are put out properly and don’t smoke in bed to avoid the danger of falling asleep while smoking.
  1. Keep a fire blanket in your park home.
  1. Keep a fire distinguisher in your park home, and read and fully understand its instructions.
  1. Think about how to get out safely: plan an escape route from every room of your park home and be sure to keep the area clear at all times.
  1. Do some checks before you go to bed, as a lot of fires start at night.

There are many more things you can do to protect you and your park home from fire. Contact your local fire department if you would like more information.

For more tips on park home living, follow us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn or have a look through our website.

 

 

 

 

legal expenses cover

Legal expenses cover – do you need it? 

You may think that you’re unlikely to get involved in any legal disputes, but everyday transactions can be legally-binding contracts.  If everything doesn’t go according to plan, legal expenses cover gives you the peace of mind that you will not be out of pocket, if you want to put it right.   So for as little as £13.44 per year (equivalent to just £1.12 per month or 3.7p per day) you will receive up to £50,000 in legal costs and benefits from legal expenses cover.

Here are just some examples of park home owners who were very pleased and relieved to have legal expenses cover in place.

Legal expenses cover – property damage dispute

The policyholder contacted the legal helpline after a branch fell from a tree and damaged the back walls of their park home. They had previously complained to the park owner and raised their concerns about the tree, requesting that the branch was removed, but these requests had been ignored. Following the damage, the policyholder wrote emails and left messages with the park owner to inform them of the incident, but received no reply.   As the policyholder had no other insurance policies that would cover this incident, our specialist legal insurers reviewed the case. They believed that prospects of success for the case were positive and instructed their panel solicitor to act on behalf of the park home owner. The panel solicitor contacted the park owner and managed to agree a settlement out of court. All legal fees were covered under the legal expenses insurance policy.

Legal expenses cover – dispute over purchase of a service

The policyholder contacted the legal helpline after work on the flooring in her park home, had not been completed to a satisfactory standard. Despite numerous attempts to contact the contractor, the park home owner did not get a reply. The park home owner therefore submitted a claim, which was referred to our specialist legal protection insurers. They examined the case and believed the prospects of success to be above 51%, so they instructed their panel solicitor to begin legal proceedings on behalf of the park home owner. The panel solicitor eventually managed to enter into discussions with the contractor, who agreed to rectify the park home flooring, which was completed to a satisfactory standard.   All legal costs were covered under the legal expenses insurance policy.

Legal expenses cover – dispute with park owner

A park home owner contacted the legal helpline, as they were being pursued for non-payment of rent by the owner of the residential park. The park owner stated that the rent had increased, and if the policyholder did not pay this additional rate, they would take legal action to remove them from the park. This rent increase had not been previously discussed, and the specialist legal protection insurers returned the prospects of success for the case as being over 51%.  They agreed to instruct a panel solicitor to act on behalf of the policyholder. The solicitor contacted the park home owner to discuss the claim and managed to settle the dispute out of court, with the park owner agreeing to stop pursuing the policyholder. All legal costs were covered under the legal expenses insurance policy.

If you choose to take out legal protection cover when you buy or renew your park home insurance, it is not limited to issues relating to your park home. You’re also covered for legal expenses incurred in a wide range of situations, for example, cases involving ID fraud, social media, personal injury and employment disputes.

For more information about our legal expenses cover, contact our park home insurance team.

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Your park home insurance will cover you if the unexpected happens, such as storm damage, however, general wear and tear on your park home will not be covered so maintaining your park home is very important. If your home is under warranty, you will be expected to follow a maintenance schedule to keep the warranty valid.  Keeping your park home maintained all year round, ensures that your property not only looks its best, but it will help to avoid any unnecessary damage.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your park home in a good condition:

Maintain the exterior walls of your park home

Check the exterior walls of your park home at least four times a year. Check for cracks so they can be treated as soon as possible.  Keep the exterior clean and make sure the textured coating is repainted every three years to keep the home weatherproof throughout its lifetime.

Check the seals around doors and windows

Check that the seals are not damaged or broken, as this will help to prevent mould, mildew or damp. Make repairs as soon as you can because if these are not well maintained, damage caused by broken seals may not be covered by your insurer.

Maintain the chassis of your home

Pay attention to what is happening underneath your park home. It will rest on a chassis and a supporting structure, and it’s the only thing on your park home that cannot be replaced. Get a professional to check the chassis of your home regularly, especially if your park home is over 10 years old.   The condition of the chassis and the supporting structure is important for the stability and lifespan of your park home. Check for rust as this can weaken the structure and should be taken care of straight away.  If your home has been modernised or refurbished this could affect the stability of your home.

Maintain your roof regularly

Check the roof of your park home regularly to make sure there is no damage.  Check all the joints on the roof and if you find any problems, make sure you that you deal with them straight away.  Make sure that good quality roof adhesive is used whenever any repairs are made to preserve the lifespan of the roof. Check your guttering to make sure it is free of debris and has no cracks or holes.  If your roof and guttering are not maintained properly, your home may not be covered by your park home insurer.

For more tips on park homes and to keep up to date, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Park Home Maintenance Banner

We all concentrate on the look of our homes when carrying out the maintenance, such as painting the outside, clearing the guttering, wiping down our UPVC windows and doors, but one of the most critical elements of maintaining a park home is the underneath. If that fails then this could cause significant damage to your home.

In most cases regarding park homes the concrete base is the responsibility of your park owner, however the tripod jacks that your home sits on (if you are lucky to have jacks and not wood blocks, or concrete bricks) are one of the most critical elements to the structural integrity of your home.

If you are unfortunate to have a support like this under your park home (this was a home we were asked to provide finance on, when we provided Park Home Finance), then you really need to get this changed As Soon As Possible. The problem with wooden supports is that they rot, they can be flexible and in this particular case they will transfer damp from the ground and into the floor joist.
When this support fails, so will the floor drop, and if the support has transferred moisture into the floor joist, that too can fail.

This is better than the wooden support shown above, and at least it is supporting the chassis rather than the floor-joist in the above

picture. They don’t look like the most stable of bricks and stone and the likelihood that this support is millimetre perfect is highly unlikely meaning that either there is a gap between the top brick and the chassis meaning the chassis is flexing and probably knocking, or the chassis was forced onto the bricks which means it might not be straight. It is sad to see however that whoever sited this home obviously scoured the park to find suitable stones, rather than was prepared for the homes arrival.

OK, so here we nearly have the correct jacks in place, but as can be seen they have not survived through time, and are heavily corroded and could fail at any time, resulting in the home dropping significantly, likely to cause significant damage to the chassis and the internals of the home. It is worth pointing out that should this happen, any damage would not be covered by a Park Home Insurance policy as this is a lack of maintenance issue and not an insured event on a Park Home Insurance Policy. Do your jacks look like these?

So what happens when the support to a Park Home Fails?

The photos here show the consequences of the supports failing under the home. It is possible that only one support will fail, but at the same time the weight of the home will be forced onto other supports, or onto the brick skirt, as shown in these photographs.

The floor in the inside of the home will become un-even and for those not confident or sure on their feet could end up tripping over the un-even floor and cause themselves a personal injury.

For those of you who own twin units, it is possible that one half will drop, but the other stay in-situ, resulting in the chassis twisting or cracking at the point where the two halves are bolted together. This will then further affect the internals of your home with large cracks to the walls and ceilings and where they meet also.

To resolve the matter, the brick skirt will need to be removed, and the home jacked up again (assuming that the chassis isn’t damaged as a result) and replacement jacks re-installed once the home is levelled and then lowered again.

Then there is the cost of the re-building of the brick skirt around the base of the home and the repair of any internal damage as a result of the home dropping.

Alternatively you can make sure that this doesn’t happen by some very basic maintenance. However, the maintenance should not be carried out by yourself, and you should have professionals come ad do this work on your behalf.

If you do not have the correct supports under your home, or they have not stood up well with time, you need to consider replacing them with Galvanised tripod jacks. These jacks do not rust, and they are merely there to act as a support. With their screw adjustment they merely are wound to make contact with the chassis, and not to lift it.
This is not expensive maintenance, but you should not consider going under your home to do this yourself, you should get a speacialist team to carryout the work on your behalf.

If you are wary as to who to contact, then please call us and we will be happy to recommend, contractors we use for our day-to-day insurance claims.

Park Home Maintenance

The Importance Of Maintaining Your Park Home (Part 1)

During these summer months, we all want to relax in our gardens, or go for those summer trips to the seaside, the hills, or visit our friends and family. But there is one very important job that should be done also this time of year.

To make sure that you maximise the life of your park home and also ensure that you do not incur unnecessary repair costs in later years, or worse still suffer from damp and mould on the inside of your home, you should regularly colour-wash the outside of your home. This is obviously a job to be carried out in the late spring and summertime whilst you can guarantee (as much as the UK Summertime allows you) warm dry weather, as the last thing you want to do is have your home painted in the damp autumn winter days where all you will be doing is trapping the damp within your home.

All Park Home Manufacturers recommend that you check the outside walls of your park home regularly for such hairline cracks and you should have the cracks rectified immediately. Even if there are no hairline cracks you should have your home colour-washed no less than every two years. You must inspect your home regularly for hairline cracks in the outer walls of your home.
The external walls of your home are clad with plywood (not marine ply) and the joins are bridged with a fibreglass webbing, and then painted over with textured paint such as Resitex, or Protected Textured Coating (PTC). Over time, the UV rays from the sun, and continual expansion and contraction of the wood, will create hairline cracks in the external paint which must be fixed immediately to prevent water getting under the paint.

Should you not rectify these faults immediately then not only will water penetrate the paint and make the paint come away from the timber below is, but will then start to rot the outer walls and also create damp and mould on the inside of your home. Should this occur, this is not covered by your traditional Park Home Insurance policy or your Platinum Seal or Gold Shield Warranty as this is a lack of maintenance and not a manufacturing defect or an insured event on your traditional home insurance policy.

The cost of painting the external walls of your park home needn’t be expensive and it is highly recommended that to maintain the structural warranty on your Park Home should you have for example a Platinum Seal Warranty, you should have an experienced Park Home contractor carryout this work so they can rectify any issue they discover when carrying out the work, but more importantly so you can substantiate that the work has been carried out in the event of a future claim under your Manufacturer’s structural Warranty. To reduce the cost of this work, why not speak to your fellow neighbours and see how many others would like this work carried out, then you will be able to negotiate a discount with a contractor as they will have a number of homes that need this work carried out.

In addition to carrying out the inspection of the external walls of your home, you should also regularly check the silicone seals around the outside of all the windows and doors of your home to ensure that this also have not cracked and perished.

Silicone is also serecptible to UV rays and hot weather and will eventually fail and crack well before your Structural Warranty comes to an end, but again this is not a manufacturing defect, just merely maintenance that needs to be carried out on your home.

If you would like some work carried out on your Park Home but are concerned as to who to choose, you are welcome to contact the Park Home Assist team and we will be happy to recommend the contractors who carryout the repairs on our Park Homes whether it is for our Park Home Insurance Policy or our Platinum Seal Claims.