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Owning a mobile home

Most people who own their mobile homes still need to rent a pitch to station it on. If you own a mobile home on a rented pitch, your rights are determined by the law and by your agreement with the site owner.

If you own your mobile home and it is pitched on a protected site this page will tell you more about your rights.

If you own your mobile home and you rent a pitch which is not on a protected site, please see our pages on renting a pitch and common law rights.

Rental agreements

When you rent a pitch to station a mobile home on, you should have a rental agreement with the site owner, which gives you certain legal rights. However, these rights only apply if:

  • you own your mobile home, and
  • you rent the pitch it's stationed on, and
  • your mobile home comes within the legal definition, and
  • your mobile home is your only or main residence, and
  • you live on a protected site.

So, for example, these rights don't apply if:

  • you own a mobile home on a rented pitch but only use it for holidays, or
  • you live on a holiday site.

Read the legal definition of a mobile home and a protected site.

Resolving disputes

Any disputes over your rental agreement can be settled in the sheriff court, or by applying to an external arbiter. However, you can only apply to an arbiter if both you and the site owner have agreed to this in writing.

An arbiter has the same power as the court; they can change or add something to your rental agreement. However, they can't force you or the site owner to comply with their decision. To do this you need to go to court.

Arbitration is a cheaper than going to court, however, if the arbiter decides against you, you can't appeal the decision. So, if the site owner wants to end your agreement and evict you, it's best to go to the sheriff court rather than an arbiter.

Right to a written statement

If you are going to rent a pitch for your mobile home or buy a mobile home on a site, the site owner must by law give you a written statement before you make the agreement.

What is a written statement?

A written statement should include:

  • your name and the name of the site owner you rent the pitch from
  • your addresses
  • the date the agreement starts and how long the agreement is for
  • a description of the land you're renting
  • the implied and express terms of your agreement (see below to find out what these are).

When should I get my written statement?

At least 28 days before the date you make the agreement to rent a pitch for your mobile home, or buy a mobile home on a site. The only way this can be changed is if you agree with the site owner to receive the written statement on a later date.

If the site owner doesn't give you the written statement in time, you can go ahead with the rental agreement or sale, and then apply to the sheriff court for an order, to force the site owner to give you a written statement. Talk to an adviser in your area or a solicitor if you need to apply to court.

How long will the agreement last?

Your agreement will continue indefinitely unless:

  • you end the agreement - you must give the site owner four weeks' notice before doing this
  • the site owner ends the agreement - with approval from the court or the arbiter, if both parties have agreed in writing to use an arbiter - approval will only be given if you have broken the agreement
  • the site owner has no right to the land - they may give up or lose their right to the land and will no longer be able to grant you the right to stay there
  • planning permission runs out - meaning mobile homes are no longer permitted on the site.

If the site owner has a right to the land for a limited time, the written statement must say when this comes to an end. Likewise if planning permission is limited, the date it expires must be stated. If the site owner's right to the land or the planning permission is extended, your agreement will also be extended and you won't have to leave.

Terms that must be in your agreement

There terms that are laid down in law and cannot be changed. They're called 'implied terms' and they include:

  • how the agreement can be ended
  • your right to sell your mobile home
  • your right to gift your mobile home
  • your rights regarding succession
  • your rights if the mobile home is to be re-sited.

How the agreement can be ended

To end the agreement you need to give the site owner at least four weeks' notice in writing.

If the site owner wants you to leave, they must give you at least four weeks' notice. If you don't leave after the notice runs out, they must get an order from the sheriff court before you will have to leave. See the section on eviction for more information.

Right to sell your mobile home

Normally when you sell your mobile home you pass on the agreement you have with the site owner to the person you are selling to.

Before you sell, you must ask the site owner's permission in writing, telling them whom you wish to sell to. They must write back within 28 days to let you know whether or not they consent to the sale. The site owner can only refuse permission because they have good reason to object to the potential buyer, for example because they:

  • have poor financial references, or
  • have a young family and the park is only intended for retired people.

The site owner cannot refuse permission because your mobile home is too old or in poor condition. However, they can impose conditions on their consent, providing these don't clash with the express terms in your written statement.

The site owner is entitled to a commission of up to 10 per cent of the sale - no VAT is payable on this figure.

If the site owner doesn't get back to you within 28 days, or you think they are being deliberately obstructive and have withheld their approval unreasonably, you can apply to the sheriff court or an independent arbiter, provided you and the site owner have agreed in writing to use an arbiter. You can also apply to the sheriff court if the site owner consents to the sale, but imposes unreasonable conditions.

Right to gift your mobile home to a family member

You are also entitled to give the mobile home to a member of your family and assign the agreement to them. Again, the site owner's approval is required but must not be withheld unreasonably, and you can apply to the sheriff court if you think their response is unreasonable. No money is payable to the site owner in this case. The site owner cannot change the agreement (for example, by raising the pitch fees) once it has passed to the new mobile home owner.

A 'member of the family' includes a:

  • husband or wife
  • civil partner
  • parent
  • child (including stepchildren and adopted children)
  • grandchild
  • brother or sister
  • uncle or aunt
  • nephew or niece
  • partner
  • any of the above related by marriage or half-blood.

Under human rights law, you may be able to argue that same-sex partners who are not civil partners also count as family members.

Succession

In the event of your death, the pitch agreement can be succeeded by:

  • your wife, husband, civil partner or opposite-sex partner (again, you may be able to argue that this includes same sex-partners), provided they were living in the mobile home with you
  • any other family member who was living with you.

If no-one living with you is entitled to succeed, the mobile home and pitch tenancy will then pass on to an heir who doesn't live there. In this case, the inheritor will have no rights to live in the mobile home or give it to another family member. They will, however, have the right to sell the mobile home.

The site owner can grant the inheritor permission to move into the mobile home and live there but they don't have to.

Moving your mobile home

The site owner may be able to move, or re-site, your mobile home to another pitch on the site if all the following conditions are met:

  • the written statement contains an express term permitting this
  • the alternative pitch is similar to the original one; and
  • all costs and expenses incurred are paid by the site owner.

Extra terms in your agreement

When you make the agreement, both you and the site owner can agree to add in 'express terms' or conditions, provided they don't conflict with the implied terms (see above), which are your rights by law. Express terms can include:

  • your right to occupy your mobile home in peace, without intrusion from other people
  • the sums of money you will pay for use of the pitch and services, and when you will make the payments
  • the annual review of the sums payable
  • the provision of services
  • the site owner's duties to maintain and repair the site and your duties to maintain and repair your mobile home
  • the site owner's right to access your pitch if necessary, for example to carry out repairs
  • the site owner's right to move your mobile home if necessary
  • your responsibility to abide by the park's rules.

Many site owners use the model agreement issued by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA), which includes standard express terms.

Make sure that any terms you agree with the site owner (for example, verbally or in any other agreement you sign) are included in the written statement, otherwise you won't be able to enforce them.

Can the express terms be changed?

You have six months from the date the agreement is made to change, delete or add to any of the express terms in the written statement. If your written statement was issued after the date you made the agreement, you have six months from the date you were given the written statement. To get the terms changed, you need to apply to the sheriff court.

After six months, if neither you nor the site owner has applied to change the terms, they become legally binding and cannot be changed, so it's important to look at them carefully during the six month period.

The right to change the express terms only applies to new agreements. If the mobile home has been given to you or if you have bought a second-hand home in a park, you won't have the right to change the express terms of the written statement and neither will the site owner.

Pitch fees

Written agreements usually contain a section that states when pitch fees can be reviewed and how any increase will be calculated.

Things that might be taken into account when calculating a pitch fee increase include:

  • inflation
  • money that the site owner has spent on making improvements to the park
  • any other factors to do with the site.

If you are unhappy with a pitch fee review you should write to the site owner and ask how it was calculated. If you are not happy with the reply, you should keep paying the old amount but refuse to pay the increase.

The site owner will either negotiate a smaller increase with you or start legal proceedings. You also have the right to apply to the sheriff court to settle the dispute. Get advice from Citizens Advice if you are considering doing this.

The new pitch fee cannot come into effect until both you and the site owner have agreed it or the sheriff court has decided the matter for you. Therefore, until a decision is made, the site owner cannot claim that you have rent arrears just because you haven't been paying the increase.

However, once the new increase has been decided on, you will have to pay the backdated increase from the review date. This could end up being a substantial sum of money, so it's best to set some aside while the dispute is going on.

Will I have to pay any other charges?

Besides pitch fees, you may be asked to pay additional service charges, for example for the supply of gas, electricity, water and sewerage, or for maintenance of the site, such as gardening. However, any charges you have to pay must be listed in the express terms.

If you're not happy about paying for certain services, you can try to get the relevant express terms changed during the six month period after the written statement has been issued.

Park rules

The express terms of your written statement may well include a responsibility to stick to the park rules. These cover things such as:

  • whether you're allowed to keep pets
  • where you can park vehicles
  • where you can hang washing out
  • considerate behaviour, for example there may be restrictions on playing loud music at night.

Who enforces park rules?

Park rules are enforceable by the site owner but not by other occupiers. For example, if you have a noisy neighbour you will have to persuade the site owner to take action against them. However, unless the express terms state that the site owner is responsible for enforcing the rules, you cannot make them take action against rule breakers if they choose not to.

Can the site owner change the park rules?

The site owner should not be able to change the park rules without first consulting with the park's residents. If your site owner is a member of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, they have to give you 28 days' notice before they can change rules that affect the park.

If you disagree with the proposals you should tell the owner in writing. If you can get at least a third of the people living in your park to ask the site owner for a meeting, the site owner will either have to withdraw the proposals or meet with you to discuss and vote on them. If less than a third of the occupiers write to the site owner, the changes will go ahead after 28 days.

Do I need a new agreement if the site is sold to a new owner?

No. When a new owner buys a site, the existing agreements have to be honoured. The new owner cannot change the agreements until they come to an end. The new owner cannot change the park rules either without the mobile home owners' agreement.

Do I need to get permission from the site owner if I want to put up a porch or decking?

Yes. If you want to put anything on your pitch in addition to your mobile home, you should ask the site owner first. If possible, get permission in writing as it can be useful if a dispute should arise at a later date.

Can the site owner move my mobile home?

The implied terms of your written statement give the site owner the right to move your mobile home. However, in order for this implied term to apply, this right must also be included in the express terms.

Therefore, if the site owner wants to move your mobile home, check first that they have included this right in the express terms.

In addition, the express terms will often state that the site owner can only move your mobile home if essential work needs to be carried out to the site or the park which can't otherwise be done. If you don't think this is the case, you can refuse to move. Get advice from a Shelter advice centre if you are in this situation.

The Park Home Owners' Charter

Many residential mobile home park owners have signed up to the Park Home Owners' Charter, drawn up by the National Park Homes Council and the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, along with home park resident committees. This explains your rights and obligations when you buy, live in and sell a mobile home. You can download a copy of the charter from the Park Homes Owners website.

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The important points

  • When you rent a pitch to station a mobile home on, you should have a rental agreement with the site owner.
  • Before you rent a pitch for your mobile home the site owner must, by law, give you a written statement before you make the agreement.
  • If the site owner has a right to the land for a limited time, the written statement must say when this comes to an end.
  • Written agreements usually contain a section that states when pitch fees can be reviewed and how any increase will be calculated.

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