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About mobile homes and sites

If you live in a mobile home your tenancy rights depend on whether your property meets the legal definition of a mobile home, and whether you live on a 'protected site'. This page explains what these terms mean.

What is the legal definition of a mobile home?

A mobile home is defined as:

  • a structure designed to be lived in that can be moved from place to place (eg, by being towed or transported on a trailer or motor vehicle), or
  • a motor vehicle designed or adapted for you to live in.

The maximum size of a mobile home is 60 feet long (exclusive of any draw-bar), 20 feet wide and 10 feet high inside. Be aware that if you add a porch or extension to your mobile home, it may take it outside the legal definition, although if the attachments can easily be removed, they can be disregarded.

Railway carriages and tents do not count as mobile homes.

Your mobile home may be classed as a 'dwelling house' rather than a mobile home if it:

  • has mains supplies of electricity, water and telephone, and
  • is used as a permanent residence, and
  • is static and cannot be moved, or
  • is so large that it cannot be moved in one piece.

What is a site?

A site is an area of land on which mobile homes are situated. A site can contain one mobile home or several hundred. Residential mobile home sites are often referred to as parks. The area of land within the site where the mobile home sits is called a pitch.

What is a protected site?

To have legal rights, your mobile home must be parked in a protected site. A protected site is one which:

  • has planning permission to be a mobile home site, and
  • has been granted a site licence, or
  • is run by the council.

All residential mobile home sites or parks should have a licence which makes them protected sites.

If you buy your own land to station a mobile home on, you'll still need planning permission and a site licence. You can get these by writing to your local council.

What is a site licence?

Site licences are granted by local councils. They can impose conditions which the site owner must keep to in order to retain their licence. Conditions can cover:

  • the number and type of mobile homes allowed on the site
  • any restrictions on when mobile homes may be stationed on the site (for example, for a limited period of time only, or only during the summer months; this must be in agreement with the planning permission)
  • where on the site the mobile homes can be put and how far apart they should be
  • landscaping (for example, the planting of trees and bushes)
  • fire precautions
  • electricity, gas, water and sewerage supplies
  • other health and safety issues.

The only protected sites which don't require licences are those which are run by the council.

Can I see the site licence for my mobile home park?

If your site has more than three mobile homes, the site licence should be displayed so that all residents can see it. If the licence is not displayed and the site owner won't show you a copy, contact the council and ask to be sent a copy, or arrange an appointment to see the licence at the council offices. Usually the licence will be held by the environmental health department.

What if the site licence is being breached?

The page on park conditions tells you what to do if you think the site owner of your park is not complying with the licence.

Are there any sites which don't need licences?

Yes. A site doesn't need a licence or planning permission if:

  • a caravan or mobile home is parked in the grounds of your home, provided it is only used for leisure purposes and nobody lives in it permanently
  • travelling caravans are parked on a site for no longer than two nights
  • the site is used by an exempted organisation such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides or Caravan Club
  • up to three mobile homes are stationed on undeveloped land of five acres or more, provided that they are there for no more than 28 days a year
  • agricultural land is being used temporarily as a caravan site by seasonal agriculture or forestry workers
  • mobile homes are stationed on or next to engineering or building sites, to provide accommodation for employees during the course of their work
  • the land is used by travelling showpeople, provided that they belong to an organisation recognised by Scottish Ministers and are either travelling as part of their business or are taking up winter quarters.

However, as these sites are not protected, residents will have fewer rights. The pages on renting a pitch and common law tenancy rights have more information on this

What about holiday sites?

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.

If you own a caravan and live on a site whose owner is a member of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) or the National Caravan Council (NCC), you will have some extra protection against eviction. The page on renting a pitch has more information.

What if I have nowhere to put my mobile home?

If you live in a mobile home, a caravan or houseboat and have nowhere permanent to station it, you could be considered homeless. A temporary holiday pitch does not count as a permanent site. In this case, you may be able to get help from the local council, especially if you have children or are pregnant, or are vulnerable in some way, for example because you're elderly or disabled. Find out how to make a homeless application to the council.

What if I park in an unauthorised site?

If you park your mobile home on a site that doesn't have planning permission, the local planning authority may serve an enforcement notice or a stop notice ordering you to leave. If you don't comply with the notice, you may face a fine and even imprisonment for up to two years.

The local planning authority must serve the enforcement notice on the owner of the land or site and the occupier of the mobile home and either of you can appeal to the Scottish Government. If you don't move, the local planning authority has the power to remove your mobile home.

If you are travelling in a mobile home, various laws govern where you can park. For example, it is an offence to park:

  • on private land without the consent of the owner or legal occupier. This is trespassing, and can be punished by a fine of up to £200 and 14 days imprisonment.
  • on a road or verge or in a layby in a way that obstructs or could be a danger to other users of the road. The maximum penalty for this is a £500 fine.

If you park your mobile home on private land without consent, the owner or legal occupier can evict you without a court order.

The section on gypsy and travellers' rights has more information on authorised and unauthorised sites.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • A mobile home is a structure designed to be lived in that can be moved from place to place, or a motor vehicle designed or adapted for you to live in.
  • A site is an area of land on which mobile homes are situated and can contain one mobile home or several hundred.
  • Residential mobile home sites or parks should have a licence which makes them protected sites.
  • If your site has more than three mobile homes, the site licence should be displayed so that all residents can see it

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us