Things to Consider when Buying a Park Home
Have you bought something that has turned out not to be exactly what you wanted? Well we know how disappointing that can feel, so how can you make sure that you get the right home for your needs and avoid potential pitfalls?
Understanding the Ownership of a Park Home
Although technically classified as “mobile homes”, the quality and build of residential park homes are now far superior to what they once were 20 years ago. All residential park homes are now built to “residential” standard, which means they are constructed and insulated in the same way a new build would be for example.
Unfortunately, there’s still some stigma attached to residential park living, but take it from us, those that are skeptical soon change their minds once they have seen a modern day residential park home in the flesh! Here at Otter Valley we have had visitors (some now current residents!), that to begin with are perhaps a little unsure, but once they have a look around the homes, are truly blown away with just how beautiful, cosy and well-constructed they are.
It’s not just the home that you want to make sure is perfect, it’s the environment it’s in. Many parks feel a little “crammed”. If you don’t mind that then that’s brilliant, but for those that want a little more privacy, some parks offer spacious pitches that offer more land than just the minimum required. At Otter Valley we are proud to offer just that, giving you that extra peace and quiet, meaning a better quality of life and/or retirement.
What to look out for
Some unwitting or ill-informed purchasers have bought homes as a permanent abode, only to find out later that they can only live in it for a limited period of the year. For example, it may state on the agreement that you can only live in it for ten or eleven months of the year.
There’s many different types of licensed sites on which residential homes can be located, this can lead to confusion and at times, problems for home owners, as different laws apply to different types of sites.
The park site owner must have planning permission as well as a site licence which will come from the local authority, this site licence will state whether the site is a holiday site or fully residential. In some instances the licence may allow for both permanent and holiday homes. Make sure you are fully aware of what you are looking for and what the park provides.
Here at Otter Valley we have a full residential license, so you can live here permanently, 12 months of the year.
Other important points
One of the main attractions of park home living is living with like-minded people of a similar age, that are also looking for peace and quiet for their semi or permanent retirement. That being said, a good thing to do is to have a walk around the park and have a chat with the current residents. It’s a great way of getting an idea of the kind of people you will be neighbours with, what the homes are like and what general life is like in the area.
It’s also essential to examine the site licence and pitch agreement carefully, the site licence should be displayed in a conspicuous place. This is normally the noticeboard on the site and the park’s site office, the local authority must keep a register of site licences and the register needs to be open to the public at all reasonable times.
Under the Mobile Homes Act 1983, you must enter into a written statement which sets out the specific terms of your agreement to live in a park home or on the park home site. If you buy your home from the park site owner, the statement must be given to you 28 days before you sign the agreement or if there’s no agreement, at least 28 days before occupying the home. Certain times can be put in place in the agreement by the Mobile Homes Act (1983), some terms will apply whether or not they’re written into the Statement. The written statement has to express terms which have been agreed between the park owner and resident. These terms can include pitch fee increases which are sometimes referred to as ground rent, an occupiers duty is to keep his home in a sound state of repair and the site owner’s duty to keep his home in a sound sate of repair and the site owner’s duty to keep the communal parts in a clean and tidy condition. If you’re buying a new park home directly from the site owner you have the power to negotiate express terms which may include utility charges like gas, water and electricity.
Use a solicitor
Using professionals like solicitors and surveyors isn’t compulsory for park home purchases but the Government recommend that, as with any property transaction, it’s always advisable for buyers and sellers to use their own specialist independent advice before deciding whether or not to proceed. This could highlight any potential problems at an early stage as well as providing peace of mind to both sides.
Surveying the park home
For second hand homes you may want to get a survey report from a park home surveyor, their job will be to check inside, outside and underneath the park home as well as provide any details on potential problems that could occur and how to resolve them. The results of any survey of the mobile home, base or pitch white the seller carries out must be provided by the seller if this was completed within 12 months of the sale.
If you decide to sell your home
There’s some important changes to the selling or gifting of a park home on a permanent residential site, this is under the Mobile Homes Act 2013. As a park home owner you can sell your home on the open market without having the new home buyer approved by the site operator, should you have owned your park home after 26 May 2013, or if you owned your park home prior to 26 May 2013, there’s a limited site owner involvement. The Mobile Homes Act (1983) offers that the park site owner is entitled to receive a commission on the sale of a park home at a rate not exceeding 10% of the sale price. The buyer must retain 10% of the purchase price to pay the park site owner.
3 main things to take away
Remember, if you want the park to be your permanent home you need to look for a full residential licence, don’t assume that a 12-month holiday licence is the same it may not be.
Check the site licence, written agreement and the park rules very carefully before signing. You can also consult a solicitor to check them for you.
If you are buying a second hand home, having a survey carried out is advisable and will be beneficial in the long run.
The guide isn’t meant to describe or give a full interpretation of the law, if you’re in any doubt about your rights and duties then seek specific advice. For preliminary advice on buying or selling permanent residential park homes, you can call the Park Homes Advice team at LEASE on 020 7832 2524.