Kids, cats and cars – don’t get caught out by the park rules
If you are thinking about purchasing a residential park home, you have probably given some thought to where you want to live and how much you are prepared to spend. But have you considered the park rules and how they might affect the use and enjoyment of your future park home? In this article solicitor Morgan Wolfe from park home law experts IBB Solicitors looks at the difficulties that can arise in relation to park rules and how to avoid them.
What are park rules?
Most parks have rules about what is permitted on the site and pitch which apply to residents, their guests and visitors. Rules generally cover such things as standards of behaviour, pitch condition and maintenance, storage (e.g. whether a shed is allowed) and noise and nuisance (playing of musical instruments). They help ensure that the park is safe, secure and enjoyable for all residents and often include very specific requirements relating to residents’ age, pet ownership and vehicles, which we look at below.
The rules form part of your legal contract with the park and if you, or your guests, break them, you will likely be in breach of your occupation agreement and at risk of eviction. It is therefore essential that you check the rules before you buy to make sure they won’t negatively affect you and your use of the home. If you think that the rules may be problematic, take this up with the park before purchase; there may be room for negotiation. If not, don’t be afraid to walk away. With some 2000 residential sites in England alone, you are bound to find other parks to suit your lifestyle.
Age isn’t just a number
Always check whether the park has a minimum age requirement for residents and that you and anyone else who will live with you will meet it on the anticipated date of completion. Where parks are designed with retirement in mind, the minimum will often be between 45 and 55 and you will be expected to state your age on pre-purchase paperwork. Even if you are just under the limit, don’t be tempted to fudge this. If you reside on a park but don’t meet the age requirement you will be in breach of the rules and the park could terminate your agreement.
Minimum age requirements generally only apply to residents – that is, people named on the occupation agreement and/or who live in the home on a permanent basis. Children, and others who are under the limit, can normally visit and even stay overnight. However, if the park suspects that your guests are staying with you on a long-term basis, they may serve you with a breach notice and seek to terminate the agreement. Check the position before you buy. If age is going to be an issue, it may be better to opt for a park with no such restrictions.
Catio on the patio
Love your Labradoodle? Crazy about your cockatiel? If you plan on bringing your pet or pets with you to the park do check that they are allowed under the rules. Some parks operate a strict no pets policy while others state that no new residents may move onto the park with pets. The rules may specify by description which pets are permitted and how many. Don’t be surprised if you move onto a no pets park to find that some residents do have pets. They may have moved onto the park before the current rules came into force and have an agreement under which when their pet passes away, they cannot be replaced.
Even if the rules do allow pets, you will likely be required to keep them indoors. We have heard of park residents building outdoor animal enclosures without first obtaining permission from the park owner and then being ordered to demolish them.
Assistance dogs are generally permitted, provided they support a disability and their owner has evidence of this, such as an Identification Book from Assistance Dogs UK.
If you own a car or any other vehicle (such as a boat and/or trailer) do check whether they are allowed and if there will be space on your pitch or other designated area to keep them. You may need to apply and pay for a parking space/garage separately. If you enjoy restoring cars, be mindful that many parks prohibit certain types of repairs and residents are generally not allowed to store “unroadworthy” vehicles on the park. That classic Porsche that is ‘nearly finished’ might look great but if it won’t start (or stop) then it is unlikely to be roadworthy. Also check the position on visitor parking and whether visitors may be required to park off site.
Buyer be wary
Always ask for a copy of the park’s rules and be sure to review these carefully along with other key documents before proceeding with your purchase. You should be able to obtain the rules from the park or the local authority, which keeps an updated register. If a park’s rules have recently changed, the register may not be up to date so always check with the park. You should also confirm with the local authority that the park is licenced and operating legally.
In light of these potential pitfalls, it’s not surprising that many buyers choose to instruct a mobile homes solicitor who can review the rules and other key documents, complete purchase paperwork, flag up any issues and ensure that purchase monies (and commission) are safely and securely transferred. Although not made of bricks and mortar, a park home comes with a hefty price tag and you will want to make sure everything is right before you buy.
The information provided is of a general nature and does not constitute, nor should be relied on, as legal or professional advice.
This article first appeared in the February 2020 edition of Park Home & Holiday Caravan Magazine https://www.parkhomemagazine.co.uk/latest-issue/
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