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Private sites for Gypsies/Travellers

This page looks at your rights if you stay on a holiday site, or on a private site run by other Gypsies/Travellers. It also explains your rights if you want to set up a site yourself, on your own land.

Are there many private sites in Scotland?

There are around 20 private sites used by Gypsies/Travellers in Scotland. These consist of:

  • sites set up and run by Gypsies/Travellers themselves
  • holiday or touring sites which allow Gypsies/Travellers to use them.

These sites may operate all year round, or only during the summer. Private sites tend to be less formally set out than council sites, and facilities for washing and cooking are more likely to be communal.

Can I stay in any private site?

Some touring and holiday site owners may not want to rent pitches to Gypsies/Travellers. Depending on your circumstances and the way in which the site owner handles the situation, you may be able to take action against the site owner if you feel they are discriminating against you because you are a Gypsy/Traveller. Read the page on discrimination against Gypsies/Travellers to find out more.

What are my rights on a private site?

Rights on a protected site

A protected site has planning permission and a site licence from the council. In order to receive a licence, the site must reach certain standards. You can find out more about protected sites and site licences on the page about mobile homes and sites.

If you're staying on a protected site, you should be given an agreement, known as a written statement, setting out your rights. This gives you many more rights than you would have on an unprotected site, including more protection against eviction. You can find out more about your rights in the section on mobile homes.

If you don't have a written statement, it may be harder to enforce your rights. If the site owner doesn't give you a written statement within three months of you agreeing to rent a pitch on the site, you can apply to the sheriff court to obtain one. However, this won't be practical if you are only staying for a short time.

Rights on a holiday site

A holiday site or a site that is not open all year round is not a protected site. Therefore if you rent a mobile home or pitch on a holiday site, you will only have common law tenancy rights, and you may find it hard to enforce these.

Rights on an unprotected sites

If you're staying on an unprotected site, that is, a site that doesn't have planning permission and a site licence, you won't have many rights, and the site owner will be able to evict you easily (see 'what if the site owner tries to evict me' below).

What can I do if site conditions are poor?

If you're not happy with the conditions or facilities on site, you should first contact the site owner or manager and put in a complaint. If conditions don't improve, you can also try complaining to the council's environmental health department, or even taking the site owner to court. Bear in mind that if you are staying on an unlicensed site, the council may decide to close it down and move you on. The page on mobile home site conditions has more information on your options.

What if the site owner tries to evict me?

Your rights if the site owner asks you to leave the site will depend on the kind of site you're staying on and the agreement you have with the owner. The page on eviction from a private site explains more.

Can I set up a site on my own land?

It may be possible to buy land to set up a site yourself. You will probably need to get planning permission and a site licence from the council, although there are some exceptions to this. For example, you won't need a site licence or planning permission if:

  • you own or rent a 'bricks and mortar' home and park a caravan in the grounds, provided it is only used for leisure purposes and nobody lives in it permanently
  • you stay in a travelling caravan on a site for no longer than two nights
  • you park up to three caravans on undeveloped land of five acres or more, provided that they are there for no more than 28 days a year
  • you're a travelling showperson who belongs to an organisation recognised by Scottish ministers, and you are either travelling as part of your business or are taking up winter quarters.

The section on mobile homes has more information on sites and licences, and you can find out more about planning permission in the section on building work.

Will I get planning permission?

Be aware that Gypsies/Travellers are often refused planning permission by the council. Depending on the situation, you may be able to argue that this is discrimination - read the page on discrimination against Gypsies/Travellers to find out what you can do in this situation.

If you don't get the necessary permissions, the council may take action to remove the site, even though you own it. Read the page on eviction from your own land to find out what to do in this situation.

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