If you own your mobile home, you may need to rent a pitch
Most people who own their mobile homes still need to rent a pitch to station it on. If you own a mobile home on a rented pitch, your rights come from the law and from your agreement with the site owner. This page covers both protected sites and unprotected sites.
When you rent a pitch to place your mobile home on, you should have a rental agreement with the site owner, which gives you certain legal rights
However, these rights only apply if:
- you own your mobile home, and
- you rent the pitch it’s stationed on, and
- your mobile home comes within the legal definition, and
- your mobile home is your only or main residence, and
- you live on a protected site.
So, for example, these rights don’t apply if:
- you own a mobile home on a rented pitch but only use it for holidays, or
- you live on a holiday site.
Any disputes over your rental agreement can be settled in the county court, or by applying to an external arbiter. However, you can only apply to an arbiter if both you and the site owner have agreed to this in writing.
An arbiter has the same powers as the court, in that they can change or add something to your rental agreement. However, they can’t force you or the site owner to comply with their decision – in this case you would need to go to the court. In addition, once the arbiter has made their decision, neither you nor the site owner can appeal against it.
Arbitration is a cheaper option than going through the courts. However, if the site owner wants to evict you, it’s best to go to the county court rather than an arbiter.
Right to a written statement
Once you have come to an agreement with the site owner to rent a pitch, you are legally entitled to a written statement. This should include:
- the names and addresses of the parties
- the date of commencement
- a description of the land and a plan of the pitch that the mobile home is to be stationed on
- the site owner’s interest in the land
- your rights to ‘quiet enjoyment’ (to live in your home without unnecessary interference from the landlord)
- the site owner’s right to enter the pitch
- the obligations of the occupier and owner
- the pitch fee and the period for which it is payable
- how and when the pitch fee can be increased
- any other additional charges
- the statement of terms implied by the law, and
- any express terms of the agreement.
All written statements should start with an explanation that they set out the terms on which the occupier is allowed to stay on the site. It should also state that an occupier should obtain legal advice if there is something they do not understand.
The written statement is evidence of the agreement between the mobile home owner and the site owner but this is not the agreement itself.
The written statement should be given at least 28 days before the agreement is entered into.
If you’re not given a written statement you can apply to the court for an order requiring the site owner to provide one.
There are terms to your agreement with the site owner that are laid down in law and cannot be changed. These are called ‘implied terms’ and they include:
- how the agreement can be ended
- your right to sell your mobile home
- your right to gift your mobile home
- your rights regarding succession
- your rights if the mobile home is to be re-sited.
How the agreement can be ended
You can end the agreement at any time, provided that you give the site owner at least four weeks’ notice in writing.
If the site owner wants you to leave, they must give you at least four weeks’ notice. If you have not left after the notice runs out, they must get an order from the court before you have to leave.
Right to sell your mobile home
Normally when you sell your mobile home you pass on the agreement you have with the site owner to the person you are selling to.
The site owner should approve the new owner, but should not refuse their approval unreasonably. The only factor they can take into account when deciding whether to give approval is the suitability of the new owner. If your site owner is refusing to give their approval unreasonably, you can apply to the courts for a decision. The site owner can claim a commission payable on the sale, but cannot claim any other payment.
You may be able to sell your mobile home to the site owner if they are interested, but they do not have the right of first refusal (being offered the chance to buy your home before anyone else). Even if your agreement says that they do have the right of first refusal, they probably won’t be able to insist on it.
Can I give my mobile home to someone else?
You can give your mobile home, and pass on the agreement, only to a member of your family. The definition of a family member is very wide, covering anyone you are related to by marriage, including stepchildren, and people living together as husband and wife, civil partnerships and same-sex couples. The gift must be made to a person approved by the site owner, but the site owner cannot withhold their approval unreasonably.
Can I pass my mobile home on when I die?
If your spouse or civil partner was living with you at the time of death, they will inherit the agreement with the site owner and all the rights that you had. If there is no spouse or civil partner, any family member living with you at the time of your death can inherit the agreement.
The rules are different when there are no family members living with you to inherit your mobile home. In this case, the person who inherits your mobile home is able to sell it on site and pass on the full agreement to the buyer, provided the site owner agrees. However, the person who inherits the mobile home does not have an automatic right to live there or give it to a member of their family, unless the site owner agrees that they can.
Can the site owner claim commission on a sale?
Yes. The site owner can usually claim commission of up to 10 per cent of the sale price. Site owners can choose to claim a lower percentage, but cannot charge a higher one.
The site owner cannot claim a commission if your mobile home was given as a gift to a family member.
Can the site owner move me to another pitch?
The site owner can only move your mobile home to another pitch for essential or emergency repair works. If the owner wants to move your mobile home for any other reason, and you do not agree with the move, s/he must make an application to the county court. The court must be satisfied that the move is reasonable. In addition:
- the new pitch must be broadly comparable to the original pitch, and
- the site owner is liable for any costs incurred during the move.
If the mobile home is to be removed for repairs to the pitch, the site owner must return your mobile home to its original when the work is completed.
When you make the agreement, both you and the site owner can agree to add in additional ‘express terms’ or conditions, provided they don’t come into conflict with the implied terms, which are your rights by law. For example, you can include terms about:
- the provision of services
- the sums of money you will have to pay for use of the pitch and services, and when you should make the payments
- any age restrictions for residents
- your responsibilities to abide by the park’s rules
- the rights of the occupier to ‘quiet enjoyment’
- if any pets are allowed on the site.
It is important to make sure that the express terms are included in your written statement; otherwise they may be difficult to enforce.
Can the express terms be changed?
Once a written statement has been issued both you and the site owner can apply to the court within six months to have any of the express terms changed or deleted. Once six months have passed, they become legally binding and cannot be changed, so it’s important to look at them carefully during the six-month period.
However, the right to change the express terms only applies to new agreements. If the mobile home has been given to you or if you have bought a second-hand home in a park, you won’t have the right to change the express terms of the written statement and neither will the site owner.
Written agreements usually contain a section that states when pitch fees can be reviewed and how any increase will be calculated.
Things that might be taken into account when calculating a pitch fee increase include:
- money that the site owner has spent on making improvements to the park
- any other factors to do with the park.
If you are unhappy with a pitch fee review you should write to the site owner and ask how it was calculated. If you are not happy with the response, you should keep paying the old amount but refuse to pay the increase.
The site owner will either negotiate a smaller increase with you or start legal proceedings. You also have the right to apply to the county court to settle this dispute. Get advice from a Shelter Cymru adviser or Citizens Advice Bureau.
The new pitch fee cannot come into effect until both you and the site owner have agreed it or the county court has decided the matter for you. Therefore, until a decision is made, the site owner cannot claim that you have rent arrears just because you have not paid the increase.
However, once the new increase has been decided on, you will have to pay the backdated increase from the review date. This could end up being a substantial amount of money, so it’s best to set aside enough money to cover the full amount of the proposed increase while the dispute is going on.
Will I have to pay any other charges?
Beside pitch fees, you may have to pay additional service charges, for example for the gas, electricity, water and sewerage, or for the maintenance of the site, such as gardening. However, any charges you have to pay must be listed in the express terms.
If you’re not happy about paying for certain services, you can try to get the relevant express terms changed during the six-month period after the written statement has been issued.
The express terms of your written statement may well include a responsibility to stick to the park rules. These cover such things as:
- whether you’re allowed to keep pets
- where you can park vehicles
- where you can hang washing out
- considerate behaviour, for example there may be restrictions on playing loud music at night.
Who enforces park rules?
Park rules are enforceable by the site owner but not by other occupiers. For example, if you have a noisy neighbour you will have to persuade the site owner to take action against them. However, unless the express terms state that the site owner is responsible for enforcing the rules, you cannot make them take action against rule breakers if they choose not to.
Can the site owner change the park rules?
The site owner should not be able to change the park rules without first consulting with the park residents. If your site owner is a member of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, they have to give you 28 days’ notice before they can change rules that affect the park.
If you disagree with the proposals you should tell the owner in writing. If you can get at least of a third of the people living in your park to ask the site owner for a meeting, the site owner will either have to withdraw the proposals or meet with you to discuss and vote on them. If less than a third of the occupiers write to the site owner, the changes will go ahead after 28 days.
Do I need a new agreement if the site is sold to a new owner?
No. When a new owner buys a site, the existing agreements have to be honored. The new owner cannot change your agreement until it has come to an end. The new owner cannot change the park rules either without the agreement of all the mobile home owners.
Do I need to get permission from the site owner if I want to make changes to my pitch?
Yes. If you want to put anything on your pitch or mobile home, for example, decking or a porch, you should ask the site owner first. If possible get permission in writing as it can be useful if a dispute should arise later.
The Park Home Owners’ Charter
Many residential mobile home park owners have signed up to the Park Home Owners’ Charter, drawn up by the National Park Homes Council and the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, along with park home residents committees. This explains your rights and obligations when you buy, live in and sell your mobile home
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.