The ‘Fit & Proper’ Person Test Explained
Following a review of park home legislation in 2018 the Government gave a commitment to introduce a fit and proper person test for site licence holders and managers on licensed protected residential parks in England. Wales introduced this test in 2014 so England and Scotland are lagging behind - to say the least!
The purpose of the test is to improve the quality of park home site management, the test, or assessment, will be carried out by the Local Authority responsible for licensing the site to ensure that the person responsible for managing the site, this could be the site owner or an appointed manager, is suitable and of good character.
The Government carried out a consultation on this issue which closed on 17th September 2019 and amongst the subjects covered were:-
- The prescribed criteria a local authority must consider when determining a person’s fitness to manage a site, in addition to discretionary matters
- The test criteria is also to be considered when granting or transferring site licences in order to assess the capability and suitability of the new owner to manage the site
- The position that results when a site licence holder or manager fails the test, that they should be given an opportunity to identify and appoint a suitable alternative manager failing which the local authority will consider whether it is possible to appoint a person to manage the site with the licence holder’s consent
- The position if the site licence holder operates the site in breach of the fit and proper person test requirements – the local authority can consider prosecuting the licence holder or revoking the site licence by applying to the First-tier Tribunal.
- For breaches the proposed regulations will set out new offences and the level of fines to be imposed on conviction.
Obviously, and sadly, Government business has been entirely de-railed by the current COVID crisis so it seems highly unlikely that this new legislation will see the light of day anytime soon. Never the less park home campaign groups such as the Park Home Owners’ JUSTICE Campaign – http://www.parkhomeownersjusticecampaign.co.uk/ and the Park Homes Policy Forum - https://park-homes-policy-forum.co.uk/ continue to lobby MP’s and Government to make sure this important legislation is not forgotten.
In Wales where the legislation was introduced in 2014 a person is deemed unfit if they have:-
- Committed any offence involving fraud or other dishonesty, violence, firearms or drugs or any offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
- Practised unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
- Contravened any provision of the law relating to housing (including mobile homes) or landlord and tenant.
We should not forget that the vast majority of licence holders be the site owners or managers conduct themselves properly treating residents with courtesy and respect, as ever it is the conduct and actions of a minority which are the driver for the introduction of this new legislation.
The Government have just announced that provisions to enable the introduction of a ‘fit and proper person’ requirement contained in section 8 of the Mobile Homes Act 2013 will be brought in on 15th June 2020.
This date is not however the effective date for the implementation of the new legislation, it simply enables the detailed regulations to be debated by both Houses following which the Government response to the consultation carried out in 2019 will be published and the required regulations laid, when parliamentary time allows. Whilst this is progress or sorts there is seemingly still a long way to go.
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