Owners of caravan and mobile home parks across the UK are being told it is ‘only a matter of time’ before new rules will lead to prosecutions unless they are fully prepared.
The timely warning comes from legal specialist Maynard Burton who says the new Mobile Homes Act, which came into force in March, has given local authorities greater powers to control licenses for sites – a move intended to protect the occupiers of mobile homes.
The sweeping changes to legislation mean that for the first time councils can charge mobile home park owners for a license, impose an annual fee and decide who is a fit and proper person to hold a permit.
But the rules will vary from council to council, creating a postcode lottery and a potential legal minefield as owners and operators of mobile home parks across the country will need to check the rules relevant to their local area to make sure they comply.
Mr Burton, partner at West Midlands-based law firm mfg Solicitors, said caravan and mobile home park owners need to act now to avoid falling foul of the rules.
He said: “The new law has now been in force for some months but we are concerned that many park home owners have overlooked the legislation.
“The new rules are made all the more complicated because different local authorities will be able to decide how much to charge both to apply for a license and for any annual fees. There are also more changes coming into force.
“For a start, councils will be able to decide who they believe is suitable for a license for a mobile home park and if an owner breaches the conditions of a license, they can end up in Magistrates Court and be hit with a fine of up to £5,000.
“Fees will also be under the microscope. If owners are reviewing their annual pitch fees they must do it in the correct manner under the new law because if they get it wrong and charge too much, they have to pay any extra back to the occupant. Leaving it until it is too late is a mistake no-one can afford to make.
As well as the risk of legal action, Mr Burton said the new rules also take full control away from individual park owners and restricts how far they can say who occupies their land.
He added: “Anyone who owns or operates a mobile home park needs to check their licences and make sure they comply with the rules their local authority will be enforcing.
“I believe it is only a matter of time before a local authority comes down hard on a park home owner. The time to get it right is now, before the council comes calling.”
To assist park home owners, Mr Burton and colleague Justin Parker are offering free initial consultation sessions to help guide owners through the new legislation. Park home owners interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org