This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
The term ‘mobile home’ covers a variety of accommodation units, such as ‘caravan’, ‘park home’ or ‘lodge’, which are located on a site/park and can be transported from place to place.
The law distinguishes between a residential mobile home (in which the owner lives all year-round) and a mobile home which is used for holidays.
Who owns mobile home sites?
The majority of mobile home sites are privately owned with a small number owned by local authorities.
How are mobile home sites regulated?
The rights of mobile homeowners may depend on the planning permission that has been granted for a mobile home site.
In granting planning permission for a site, local planning authorities may attach planning conditions. These might specify that a site is for ‘holiday use only’ or restrict occupation for a specified period, e.g. 11 months of the year. Sites subject to these requirements will, as a rule, not be ‘relevant protected sites’ to which the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (as amended) applies (see below).
Living year-round on a site with planning permission for holiday use only may amount to a breach of planning permission. Site owners with planning permission for holiday use may require mobile homeowners to vacate the site for a period each year in order to avoid such a breach.
Local planning authorities have powers which allow them (at their discretion) to take enforcement action against a breach of planning conditions.
The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 prohibits the use of land as a site, without a licence from the local authority.
Local authorities have powers to impose conditions in site licences and enforce them if they are breached. These conditions may relate to the number of mobile homes on the site, the spacing between them and provision of amenities. In attaching conditions to the licence, local authorities will seek to ensure that general standards of environmental health are maintained.
During the Covid-19 pandemic
In a Written Ministerial Statement in July 2020, the Government said that temporary relaxation of planning restrictions on mobile home and holiday parks could play a “vital role” in helping local businesses to get up and running again. Local planning authorities were therefore urged not to take planning enforcement action which would “unnecessarily restrict” parks’ ability to extend their open season. In the accompanying announcement, the Government suggested that owners of sites whose open season was limited by a planning condition should speak to the local planning authority about a temporary extension.
What rights do mobile home residents have?
People living year-round in a mobile home normally own their home and rent the land on which it is stationed from the site owner (paying a pitch fee). The written agreement between the mobile homeowner and the site owner sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
The Mobile Homes Act 1983 (as amended) implies a number of important terms into the written agreement. These cover matters such as: how the agreement can be terminated; how the annual pitch fee can be changed; and the process that needs to be followed when buying, selling or gifting the mobile home. The implied terms constitute the minimum rights of mobile homeowners in England.
Mobile homeowners have different rights and responsibilities in:
Resolving disputes with site owners
The independent First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) can adjudicate on most disputes about mobile homes. The county court deals with applications to terminate an agreement with a mobile homeowner.
Disputes over the site licence or harassment arising on the site can be referred to the local authority.
Following a review of mobile homes legislation in 2017, the Government has committed to strengthen the existing legislation and address ongoing issues with the sector. It will bring forward legislation when parliamentary time allows.
What rights do owners of holiday mobile homes have?
The sale of holiday mobile homes and pitch agreements are governed by contract law. The use of a mobile home in a holiday park is also a contract, not a tenancy. The contract should stipulate the rights and obligations of both parties.
The Misrepresentation Act 1967 protects consumers from false claims made by a seller before the contract is made (either fraudulently, negligently or innocently). The general remedy is for the court to cancel or unwind the contract and/or award damages.
Part 2 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) protects consumers from unfair terms in consumer contracts or notices. Under Part 2, written terms must be transparent and fair. A term will be unfair if it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ contractual rights and obligations to the detriment of the consumer. If the court decides a term is unfair it will not be bounding on the consumer, but the contract will remain. Crucially, a term that specifies the main subject matter of the contract or the price cannot be assessed for fairness, provided it is prominent and transparent. Part 2 is enforced by the Competition and Markets Authority. Individual consumers can also take legal action against unfair terms but should first seek legal advice.
Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) all businesses must trade fairly. The CPRs prohibit traders in all sectors from engaging in unfair commercial practices (e.g., misleading selling) and determines when commercial practices are unfair. The CPRs apply to business conduct before, during and after the contract is made, and are enforced by Trading Standards.
Where to go for help
The Government funded LEASE Park Homes provides free advice and guidance on residential park homes law and can be contacted on their freephone number: 0808 196 2212.
In addition to a solicitor, advice can be obtained free of charge from Citizens Advice or by contacting the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133.
The Commons Library’s briefing paper: Legal advice: where to go and how to pay may also be of interest.
- Commons Library briefing paper: Mobile (park) homes.
- Gov.uk: Park homes
- Commons Library briefing paper: Mobile (park) homes: 10% commission on sales
- Commons Library briefing paper: Consumer protection: leisure homes
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.