We are seeking to influence and directly input into the upcoming UK-wide park homes consultation. Consumer Focus (in conjunction with Consumer Focus Wales) has commissioned IFF Research to develop a robust ...
On Thursday 25 October, I laid the Regulated Mobile Home Sites (Wales) Bill, together with an explanatory memorandum, before the National Assembly for Wales. I have also issued a written statement and I am pleased to introduce the Bill for Assembly Members’ consideration today.
I want to acknowledge the support and hard work put into producing this Bill from Assembly Commission staff, and my own researchers who have worked with me to produce this Bill.
I should also acknowledge the support of the Heritage, Regeneration and Housing Minister. Although this is a member’s bill, he has allowed his officials to work with me on it and their constructive comments and searching questions have been invaluable in producing the Bill.
A formal consultation was undertaken prior to the drafting of this Bill and I also conducted a survey of 2,008 Park Home residents, which elicited 906 responses. The responses, indicated that over 95% of these residents are older than 55 years of age, and more than half are above the age of 70. Over 86% of respondents said that they were retired suggesting that many are on a fixed income.
It is clear from all the research undertaken that a number of park home residents will be considered to be vulnerable because of age or ill-health.
That is why reports of harassment, intimidation, exploitation, and sharp practice by a small minority of site operators are so disturbing. Many residents have reported that they do not feel that they have the protection of the law and the support of local councils in countering such practices. It is the reason that I, and others, believe that this bill is necessary.
The Bill will create a licensing regime that is a modern, fit for purpose, framework that can be consistently implemented across Wales.
Local authorities will remain the licensing authorities, but there will be a new statutory duty for them to consider exercising their powers of collaboration with other local authorities when licensing regulated sites. Such arrangements could allow expertise to be shared and costs to be reduced. It may also simplify record keeping requirements, such as details of licensed sites and copies of site rules.
Authorised agents or officers of licensing authorities will have powers of entry should they need to enter a regulated site for matters connected with licensing. Local authorities will be permitted to charge a fee for processing and issuing a site licence which will last for up to five years, but be renewable thereafter.
Currently licensing authorities have no discretion to refuse an application. The Bill will permit a local authority to refuse to grant a licence where it is not satisfied as to certain matters outlined in the Bill.
The licensing authority will also ensure that a site meets the standards set down by regulation for the stationing of the agreed number of mobile homes, whilst the site licence will include a number of mandatory conditions.
In order to be granted a licence the owner and manager (or other persons involved in the management of the site) will need to pass a “fit and proper” person test. There will be a duty on local authorities to request sufficient information from applicants for a licence to determine whether the licence holder and any person involved in the management of the site are fit and proper persons.
This test will consider relevant criminal offences, contraventions of any provision of relevant legislation, as well as any breaches of any code of practice or regulations made under provisions in this Bill that relate to the management of sites.
Because the site rules will form part of the licence, in future they may only be changed following consultation with occupiers and, if one exists, any qualifying residents’ association. The licensing authority will need to be satisfied that the majority of occupiers agree to the variation.
The Bill outlines a number of circumstances where the licensing authority may consider revoking a site licence either on its own initiative or, in certain cases, at the request of a qualifying residents association. As an alternative to revocation, the licensing authority may instead appoint an interim manager.
Site owners will have a right of appeal in relation to the decisions of licensing authorities to the Residential Property Tribunal. In addition the licensing authority or the licence holder may refer certain matters to the tribunal to decide any disputes about the extent of any works, the time limits specified in the notice, whether the work has been completed before the authority executed the works, and the reasonable costs incurred.
The Bill will introduce far more realistic penalties for the breach of licensing conditions and other offences. It will also introduce a repayment order provision whereby site operators who sell and collect pitch fees or collect commission on sales for unlicensed sites may be ordered to repay these monies together with any reasonable costs incurred. Local authorities will also be able to issue a fixed penalty as an alternative to prosecution for certain offences.
Provisions for the recognition of a qualifying residents’ association remain as present, however the Bill amends the 1983 Act to require a membership list, which should be up-to-date, to be presented to the licensing authority and not made public. The association’s rules and constitution will also be held by the local authority, but these will be open to public inspection.
The Bill makes provision for rights of succession so that any person who is a widow, widower, surviving civil partner (or other family member if there is no widow etc.), and living in the mobile home as their only or main residence will be entitled to take over the written agreement.
Under the terms of the Bill, pitch fees will only be able to be increased in line with the Consumer Prices Index, which is the measure that pensions are currently linked to, rather than the higher Retail Prices Index. There are provisions as to what must be taken into account when calculating any increase or decrease in the pitch fee, whilst the Bill also specifies that the site operator must not pass on any costs that are incurred by them in order to implement changes made by it.
The Bill seeks to clarify the law as to when a mobile home owner can make internal alterations to their home and also under what circumstances a site operator can relocate a mobile home to a different pitch. Unless there is a need for an urgent relocation, this will require the agreement of both parties or the consent of the Residential Property Tribunal.
I hope that following detailed scrutiny and debate this bill will command the support of the Assembly. I look forward to working with members over the next few months to make that a reality.
Responding to the Mobile Homes (Wales) Bill consultation paper, the watchdog has also recommended that the Welsh Government provide a website, telephone line and clearer guidance so residents, site operators and local ...
Consumer Focus Wales has uncovered stories of unscrupulous and intimidating behaviour by some park home site operators which has led to residents being left thousands of pounds out of pocket. In its report Park Life the ...
Important step forward taken in protecting mobile home owners
New legislation to modernise the licensing regime Mobile Home Sites in Wales has taken a step closer towards becoming law after passing its first stage in the National Assembly for Wales.
The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black is sponsoring the private members’ Bill through the Assembly. He thanked members for their support today and predicted that it could be law by the summer.
“The Bill will create a licensing regime that is a modern, fit-for-purpose framework that can be consistently implemented across Wales” said Mr. Black. “It will give local authorities the resources and powers to award and police licenses and to ensure site owners pass a fit and proper persons test.
“The Bill will offer more protection to mobile home owners by ending the veto on new sales and providing protection for existing residents from frivolous sale blocking. It will protect the anonymity of members of residents’ associations so as to avoid intimidation by site owners.
“I look forward to Stage 2 proceedings, now starting after Whitsun recess, and the Bill being passed by the National Assembly before the Summer Recess begins.”
More than 40 per cent of park homes residents have told a consumer watchdog they feel unable to sell or buy their home freely due to a fear of site owners blocking sales. Research into life on park home sites in Wales by ...
Local authorities in Wales should work together more effectively to protect the rights of park homes residents says Consumer Focus Wales. The Regulated Mobile Home Sites (Wales) Bill aims to better protect vulnerable park ...
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.