The purchase of a residential park home, like the purchase of any property, represents a significant investment and yet it is a fact that many people go about the purchase in a very more relaxed way than they would if they were buying a traditional bricks and mortar property. For example most people do not have the home surveyed, fair enough if buying a brand new home perhaps and whilst it is unlikely that a mortgage or borrowing is involved, where a survey would be a condition, we would strongly advise that a specialist park home surveyor is engaged to give you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you are buying and what work may be required.
Sadly we have come across numerous cases where a second hand park home has been purchased without a survey and subsequently real problems come to light, in these circumstances there is unlikely to be any recourse to the previous owner and it is unlikely that your park home insurer will accept liability for a pre-existing condition or work required due to age, wear and tear. A survey represents very good value for money and above all peace of mind, it may also enable you to negotiate down the purchase price.
It is also the case that the majority of purchasers do not engage the services of a solicitor, and importantly a solicitor who is conversant with the Mobile Homes Act and relevant legislation. Why would you spend £100,000 and possibly a lot more on a property without a survey and without taking legal advice?
It is true that the purchase process for a park home is very different to the purchase of a bricks and mortar property but there are still things that need checking. Have you read and understood the ‘Written Agreement’? Have you read and understood the park rules? Failure to comply with the park rules could be a real problem down the line. Is the park properly licensed, in other words does it benefit from a residential license which is protected by the Mobile Homes Act and therefore entitles you to live on the park forever, and to pass that right on. Sadly many homes are being sold as ‘residential’ when in fact they do not have this invaluable protection, they may have a 12 month holiday licence for example which gives very little security.
Does the park, and your plot, benefit from a valid planning permission? This is very important and there have been examples where homes have been sold which do not have planning permission. And finally are you aware that when you sell the home the park owner is legally entitled to receive up to 10% (and it usually is 10%) of the sale proceeds?
Another important consideration is insurance. You will clearly need to insure such a valuable and important asset, it will be a requirement of the park rules that you do as well. Before committing to the purchase check you can get insurance, particularly if the home is near a river or flood plain. All insurers will look at the risk based upon the postal code and flood data is now so comprehensive that insurers will be careful not to take on risks they consider to be ‘at risk’. Equally insurers will want to ensure the home is in good condition so if you are purchasing an older home they may well request a copy of the survey, photographs and details of any works carried out. Imagine buying a property and being unable to insure it.
There are plenty of good reasons for buying a park home but do your research before you do so, visit the park a few times on your own, talk to residents, look at how well the park is maintained, the roads, pavements, street lights and gardens. Always remember, you are only buying the home, not the plot for which you will have to pay a monthly pitch fee which can go up every year in line with the RPI as a minimum.