We often hear word of a ‘fit and proper person’ test for park site operators, but what does it actually mean? The Government has committed to introducing such a test in England as already exists in Wales. The Leasehold Advisory Service’s Ibraheem Dulmeer explains…
The purpose of the fit and proper test is to improve park home site management standards. In England, following a review of the park homes legislation in 2018, the Government gave a commitment to introduce a fit and proper person test for site licence holders and managers of relevant protected sites in England.
This article is a brief introduction to the current position in England and Wales surrounding the fit and proper test.
It is not yet a legal requirement for a person responsible for managing a relevant protected site in England to be a fit and proper person. However, this requirement has applied to regulated sites in Wales since 2014.
what is the fit and proper person test?
The fit and proper person test is an assessment carried out by the local authority that the person responsible for managing the site is suitable and of good character.
The local authority must be satisfied that the owner of the land: is a fit and proper person to manage the site; or, (if the owner doesn’t manage the site) that the person appointed by the owner to be the manager is a fit and proper to do so.
AN OVERVIEW IN ENGLAND
It is section 8 of the Mobile Homes Act 2013 that empowers the Secretary of State to introduce a requirement for a relevant protected site to be managed by a fit and proper person.
Section 8 sets out an overarching framework for the operation of the test; the processes that local authorities will use; and a register of fit and proper site managers and/or persons.
The Government consulted on a fit and proper test in England. This consultation closed on 17 September 2019.
The following matters were covered in the consultation (non-exhaustive):
● The proposed regulations are to set out the prescribed criteria a local authority must consider when determining a person’s fitness to manage a site, in addition to discretionary matters.
● The test criteria is to be also considered when granting or transferring site licences in order to assess the capability and suitability to manage a site.
● Where a site licence holder or manager fails a test, it is proposed that the site licence holder should be given the opportunity to identify and appoint a suitable alternative manager. If the site licence holder is not able to do this the local authority will consider whether it is possible to appoint a person to manage the site, with the site licence holder’s consent.
● If the site licence holder operates the site in breach of the fit and proper person requirement, the local authority will consider whether to apply to a First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for an order revoking the site licence in question and/or to prosecute the site licence holder.
● For breaches of the fit and proper person requirement, the proposed regulations will set out new offences and the level of fines to be imposed on conviction.
We await the Government’s decision on how the fit and proper person test is to be implemented in England and when.
Ibraheem Dulmeer is a Legal Adviser and Solicitor Advocate for LEASE. LEASE provides free advice on residential park home matters. If you have any questions regarding the information in this article, contact LEASE on 020 7832 2525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LEASE park homes’ website https://parkhomes.lease-advice.org/ also carries guidance and reports of Tribunal decisions, which you may find of use.
Please note that the information provided in this article serves as a useful introduction to residential park homes. Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. If in doubt, seek specific advice from a specialist solicitor or Direct Public Access barrister. This article is accurate as at 5 November 2019.
Read the full story in the New Models 2020 issue of Park Home & Holiday Caravan