Park Homes - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

6  Conclusions

83. Malpractice is widespread across the park home sector and ranges from site owners poorly maintaining sites and charging their residents unfairly to much more serious cases of harassment and intimidation against residents. Sale blocking is a serious problem that needs addressing urgently and we have concluded that this could only be properly addressed by removing the site owner's right to approve buyers of park homes, which will require primary legislation. In the meantime, the Government must use secondary legislation to increase the powers available to the Residential Property Tribunal to deter site owners from blocking sales. Though we received some representations calling for the site owner's commission on sales to be reduced we concluded that for the industry to remain viable this must be retained.

84. The park home licensing regime is over 50 years old and is ineffective. It does not provide local authorities with a means of resourcing their licensing operations or monitoring park homes sites in the 21st century. Nor does it provide authorities with adequate powers to take action when licences are breached or provide an effective deterrent to site owners not to breach licence conditions. The recommendations we have made would involve a thorough reworking of the existing system. They would also ensure that the greater part of the cost to operate the new system falls on the worst site owners rather than home owners and good site owners. We see a strong case for a 'fit and proper person' requirement and we recommend that the Government takes powers to introduce one if the other reforms that are made prove ineffective.

85. The legal framework that covers agreements between park home site owners and residents is flawed. It neither effectively sets out the obligations of site owners nor does it provide residents with clear legal redress when site owners ignore their obligations. We have recommended that the Government pursue its intention to legislate to clarify the obligations of site owners towards their residents, but rather than wait to legislate through primary legislation, it should as far as possible do this through secondary legislation this session. In addition, the Government must ensure that residents, site owners and others involved in the park home sector are made more aware of the rights and obligations of residents.

86. Park home sites are particularly suited to people that are older and more vulnerable than the population as a whole, yet the current legislative framework is weak and offers unscrupulous operators an easy route to exploit them. Legislation is urgently needed and while some useful improvements can be achieved through secondary legislation this session—and we set these out in our report—primary legislation is urgently required to overhaul the park home sector, especially to stop sales blocking and to put licensing on a firm footing. We therefore recommend that a comprehensive package consisting of the measures we have set out is brought forward by the Government. We further recommend that a bill reforming the park home sector be given a slot as soon as possible in the Government's legislative timetable and that priority is given to assist the department in drafting this legislation.

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Prepared 20 June 2012