Mobile Home Contracts
Genuinely specialist solicitors to advise you on the standard, implied or recommended clauses for a park home contract.
Both the Mobile Homes Act itself, and park home law in general, can be something of a minefield for the unwary. What is more, most solicitors have little specialist knowledge of this important area of the law.
On 1 October 2006, the Government introduced the widest-ranging changes to the law on park homes in England since the Mobile Homes Act in 1983. These changes added 18 brand new Implied Terms (“the Terms”) into all residential occupation agreements, and significantly amended a number of the old terms. More importantly, all these changes were introduced retrospectively, meaning that they apply to every agreement under the Act whenever it started, and not only to new agreements which started after 1 October 2006.
It is therefore essential that all park owners are fully familiar with the new Terms, in order to avoid the risk of expensive and time-consuming litigation. The Terms currently only apply to parks in England, and so parks in Wales are still regulated by the old terms under the 1983 Mobile Homes Act and the 2004 Housing Act.
What are the “Statutory Implied Terms”?
These are contractual terms which apply to every Agreement under the Mobile Homes Act 1983. They are implied into the Agreement by the Act itself, and can be found in Schedule I, Part I of the Act. The original implied terms have been in place since 1983, and have recently been amended by the additional terms introduced by the Housing Act 2004 and the 2006 Regulations. It is not possible for the parties to a Mobile Homes Act Agreement to delete, vary or contract out of the Statutory Implied Terms, even if both site owner and occupier want to do so. Below is a summary of the implied terms.
Termination of Agreement by site owner
There are only 3 grounds on which a site owner can seek to terminate a resident’s MHA Agreement, which are as follows:-
- Where the Court is satisfied that the occupier has breached a term of the Agreement and, after service of a notice to remedy the breach, the occupier (a) has not complied with the notice within a reasonable time and (b) the Court considers it reasonable to terminate the Agreement (paragraph 4). This ground has not been altered by the new Terms.
- Where the Court is satisfied that the occupier is not occupying the mobile home as his only or main place of residence (paragraph 5). The Terms have amended this ground so that it is now not enough for a park owner to show that the occupier is not living in the mobile home – the Court must also consider it reasonable in all the circumstances to terminate the Agreement; and
- Where the Court is satisfied that the mobile home is having a detrimental effect on the amenity of the site by reason of its condition.
Sale of Mobile Home
There is an implied term that site owners may not impose conditions on giving consent to sales of homes and assignments of agreements to prospective buyers. A site owner only has 2 choices when faced with a request for permission to sell a home on the park; he must consent to the request, or refuse it. If the site owner refuses to consent, he must provide written reasons to the occupier. The Terms also clarify the fact that the site owner may not make any charge to an occupier on a sale of a home, other than the statutory commission.
Gifts of Mobile Home
The Terms make clear that the site owner may not make any charge, either to an outgoing resident or an incoming one, on a gift of a mobile home, however, the Terms do not allow a resident to give his home to anyone except a member of his family, to be approved by the site owner. This approval, of course, must not be unreasonably withheld.
Moving a Mobile Home
The Terms now give site owners a statutory right to move a mobile home to an alternative pitch on the park, provided that the correct procedure is followed.
Right of Quiet Enjoyment
The park owner must not do anything to interfere with the occupier’s right to live on the site. Such a term has been part of the model standard written statement for many years, but for the first time is given statutory force.
Owner’s Right of Entry to the Pitch
This term limits the occasions when the park owner can go onto a resident’s pitch. It is no doubt designed to prevent site owners from intimidating or harassing occupiers by visiting them at night.
A site owner will only be able to go onto a resident’s pitch without prior notice for 2 reasons:-
- To deliver any written communications, including post and notices, to the occupier; or
- To read any meter.
Such visits can only take place between 9.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m.
The park owner may go onto the occupier’s pitch “to carry out essential repair or emergency works” by giving as much notice to the occupier as is reasonably practicable. This notice does not have to be in writing. In such cases, of course, it may not be possible for any notice to be given, particularly if the occupier is away from the home when an emergency occurs.
In all other cases, the site owner may only go onto a resident’s pitch if he has given the occupier at least 14 clear days’ written notice stating the date and time of the visit and the reason for the visit, unless the occupier agrees otherwise. It is important to remember that “clear days” does not include the date on which the notice is posted, nor the date on which the resident receives it.
Finally, you should note that nothing in the Agreement or the Terms gives a site owner the right to enter the mobile home itself without the permission of the occupier.
Pitch Fee Reviews
The first point to note is that a park owner cannot simply impose a pitch fee increase on his residents. The pitch fees can only be increased either if the occupier agrees to the increase (either expressly, or by implication such as by payment without objection), or in the absence of agreement, by the Court.
The Court will approve the increase if it considers it reasonable to do so.
The site owner may only increase pitch fees annually on the agreed “review date”. This date will normally be set out in the written statement and will include a process (if you need advice or information about this, please get in touch).
The Terms impose the following legal obligations on all occupiers:-
- To pay the pitch fee;
- To pay all sums due for gas, water, electricity and sewerage charges, as well as charges for any other services supplied by the owner;
- To keep the mobile home in a sound state of repair;
- To maintain the outside of the mobile home and keep the pitch, fences and outbuildings, clean and tidy; and
- To provide the site owner with evidence of any expenses that the occupier might seek to recover from the owner.
Site Owner’s Obligations
The Terms require all site owners to:-
- Provide accurate details to the occupier about the pitch, if requested to do so by the occupier. The information must show accurate written details of (i) the size of the pitch and the base on which the mobile home is stationed; and (ii) the location of the pitch and the base within the site. Both details must include measurements taken between fixed points on the site and the pitch and the base. The site owner can charge up to £30 for providing this information;
- Provide upon request, free of charge, written evidence in support of any pitch fee increase, or any charges payable by the owner which he is seeking to pass on to the occupiers (such as electricity, gas, water, sewerage charges, etc.);
- Maintain the base on which the mobile home is stationed, and keep the park’s services in good repair;
- Keep the common parts of the site in good condition;
- Consult the occupiers about improvements to the site in general, and in particular about those which the owner wishes to be taken into account when determining the amount of any new pitch fee;
- Consult with a Qualifying Residents’ Association (if there is one) about all matters which relate to the operation and management of, or improvements to, the site and which may affect the occupiers either directly or indirectly; and
- Not do anything which might prevent an occupier from complying with his own obligations under the agreement.
The duty to “consult” with residents about proposed improvements to the site is now extremely important, as if a park owner fails to consult with residents or a QRA in advance he will not be able to pass on the cost of those improvements to the residents through a pitch fee increase.
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To speak to one of our park and residential homes solicitors please call us today on 03456 381381 or email email@example.com.