This year has seen a radical change in the legislative landscape for residential parks in the UK. It appears on first glance that holiday parks have escaped unscathed but that relief may be short lived as further changes are on the horizon.
On 11 December 2013 the Holiday Caravan Sites (Wales) Bill was presented to the National Assembly of Wales for consideration. Whilst the content of that Bill will not become law in England if it is approved by the National Assembly of Wales, it is very much set to pave the way for a similar Bill in England. The content of that Bill is therefore of great importance.
The main areas the Bill focuses on are as follows:
- A local authorities power to address unlawful occupation of caravans – This relates to the common problem of people occupying caravans on a holiday park as their only or main residence. This is likely to be in direct breach of the site licence for that park. It also has a detrimental effect on the economy as occupiers often do not pay council tax.
The Bill proposes the implementation of a ‘residence test’ to be carried out by park owners in which they must maintain evidence to show that the caravans on their park are not occupied as someone’s main or only residence. If a park owner fails to comply with the residence test and to make the information available to the local authority they could be served with a Compliance Notice.
- Fit and proper person test – The much debated fit and proper person test which features in the Mobile Homes Act 2013 in connection with residential parks has reared its head again. The Bill proposes that when granting a licence to a holiday park owner a local authority must have regard to whether or not that person is fit and proper to manage the site.
- Holiday caravan agreements – The Bill proposes the implementation of a standard written agreement between a holiday park owner and a caravan owner which is aimed at addressing the imbalance between park owner and caravan owner. The terms of any proposed agreement are yet to be seen.
- Enforcing operating conditions of a site licence – The Bill proposes a mandatory requirement for local authorities to annually inspect each holiday park in its constituency. The purpose of any such visit would be to monitor compliance with site licence conditions. However the duty to carry out any annual inspections is to be the subject of further regulations.
The Bill is currently in the public consultation stage and all of those with an interest in the industry are invited to comment. Darren Millar AM (the Welsh Assembly Member responsible for the Bill) is keen to seek wide opinion on the Bill which is likely to become law in mid 2014. You can send your views on the Bill to firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date for responses to the consultation is 17 January 2014.
Holiday and Home Parks Department
0113 2279 203