Members of the Justice Campaign feel very strongly about the commission charges which, they claim, cause residents considerable difficulty and traps them in their homes because they cannot afford to move due to the level of these charges. Coupled with this is a fear that, should they need to go into care, they might not be able to afford the level of care that they need after parting with up to 10 per cent of their equity.
When the 1983 Mobile Homes Act came into being and the commission rate was set at ‘up to 10 per cent’, park homes cost a fraction of what they do today and as it appears that the majority of park owners charge the full 10 per cent rate the amount of commission payable can be as high as £20,000. Another factor that also concerns residents is the amount of money they spend on improving their homes – landscaping gardens, installing upmarket kitchen appliances, adding decks, etc – which adds to the attractiveness of the park. But the added value that such improvements have put on their homes is also subject to the commission charge when the time comes for them to sell.
A debate is called for
As a result of all these concerns, Sonia started a petition calling on the Government to have a debate in the House of Commons to review the commission charge. That petition was signed by 31,440 people and was delivered to No. 10 Downing Street on 2 July this year.
Among those accompanying Sonia to Downing Street were her local MP, Annette Brooke OBE, Alan Savory MBE from the Independent Park Home Advisory Service, and Brian Doick, of the National Park Home Residents’ Association.
More than 200 park home residents from all over the country travelled to London on that day. A large number had banners with slogans which made clear their feelings about commission. Following the presentation of the petition at No. 10, there was a meeting in a House of Commons committee room that was attended by 150 residents and many MPs, many representing the constituencies of the residents present.
Annette Brooke OBE chaired the meeting and explained the background to the Justice Campaign’s call for a debate on the commission charge. She explained that information had been collected from residents in all parts of the country who were angry that they were paying pitch fees plus a commission charge when the time came for them to sell their homes.
Although pitch fee increases are covered by the 2013 legislation and residents can challenge increases, particularly if they feel that the park isn’t being properly maintained, there was nothing in the legislation about commission.
Annette Brooke stressed that the last thing she wanted to do was to get rid of commission and then find that pitch fees were going up.
She saw a need for another economic study of the whole park homes industry. She was adamant that she wanted good site owners to carry on doing their excellent work and to reap reasonable financial returns.
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