With all the written and oral evidence gathered in, the Select Committee has produced its report which says that better regulations are needed to protect park home residents from rogue operators. Launching the report, Clive Betts MP, chair of the Committee, said: ‘We received an exceptionally large body of evidence showing the park homes industry has been infiltrated by a rogue element and our recommendations are designed to drive these operators out of the sector.’
He said that although the Committee recognised that there are some good operators, the vast majority of the evidence received suggested that malpractice is widespread across the sector.
Complaints from residents about unfair fees, poor maintenance and site owners making it difficult for residents to sell their homes were common.
The legislation covering this sector was, according to the DCLG Select Committee, ‘more suited to the 1960s’ and it is failing to protect park home residents –most of whom are elderly – from exploitation by unscrupulous owners.
The report went on to state that the Committee found that a quarter of park home residents had experienced problems with maintenance, security or safety standards; that nearly a fifth of residents had experienced problems with the written contracts they had with their site owners; and that residents had experienced intimidation by site owners or managers at a significant number of sites in the UK.
The most widespread problems identified in the report included:
Sale blocking, where a site owner prevented a resident from selling their home on the open market by withholding ‘approval’ of the prospective buyer. A rogue site owner was then able to force vendors to sell their homes to him at a reduced price and he would either sell on the existing home, or place a brand new home on the same pitch, showing a profit in either case.
Harassment by site owners, which appears to be on the increase. The report stated that preliminary research findings by Consumer Focus suggested that residents on sites owned by 28 different owners had experienced intimidation by site owners/managers. The Committee had to take the exceptional step of redacting names from the published evidence. A licensing regime that is out of date which allows site owners to breach licence conditions with only a maximum fine of £2,500, a wholly inadequate deterrent.
Confusion over contractual obligations between site owners and home owners, and out of date legislation which leaves residents with little or no ability to take action if the site is not properly maintained.
Commending on these findings, Clive Betts MP added, ‘The current legislation is beyond inadequate. It fails to deter unscrupulous site owners, fails to give local authorities effective powers to improve conditions, and fails to protect residents, many of whom are retired. Rules governing this sector have evolved piecemeal, and need to be updated as soon as possible.’
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