Every year, thousands of park home owners suddenly find their parks under new ownership, often the first confirmation being the presence on the park of unfamiliar faces. However, as things stand, there is no obligation upon either the previous, or the new ownership, to give advance notice to occupying residents. For many who have become accustomed to the previous management, this can become a worrying time, spelling uncertainties and sometimes either relief - or fears for the future. Whether such events are to do with a park owner selling up upon retirement, or the outcome of an aggressive acquisition as new investors become involved, here are just some of the things that should be borne in mind.
The overriding guideline is that radical changes are restricted in the absence of Local Authority approvals or written agreement between the new ownership and the occupiers in situ. The transfer of the site license and any new condition that may have been attached are key. Although there are frequent disconnects between what a Local Authority believes residents should or need to know, this should be the first port of call, the new ownership are then required to display the license for all residents to see and read.
Vital to remember, is that neither your Written Statement under the Mobile Homes Act, nor the prevailing pitch fee can be changed. If changes are proposed, then these should be rejected until such time as legal advice has been taken and the implications known and properly understood. If your park home insurance policy includes legal cover, then relevant advice can be taken, If not, basic advice can be obtained from the Leasehold Advisory Service for Park Homes (LEASE – 020 7832 2525). The same applies to any proposed changes to the prevailing Park Rules, requiring agreement by the majority of park residents and ultimately the approval of the Local Authority with whom the Rules are required to be lodged.
Whilst many changes in ownership will run smoothly, others may not. Some believe that they can walk in and do and say as they please, denying the voices of any Residents Association and actively discouraging or disregarding their existence. If you find yourselves in this position, then you should collectively insist upon meeting with your local council to discuss your concerns, also involving your local Councillor and /or constituency MP.
Here, we do not need to be over concerned about takeovers by professional and ethical operators, who are likely to want to work with their residents to mutual benefit, but we otherwise sometimes see attempts to impose new terms and additional charges for services or utilities that cannot be lawfully imposed. If these are proposed or imposed, useful guidance can be found in the decision of the Court of Appeal, the link address provided below: