The role of local authorities
Speaking about Clauses 1-7 of the Bill, Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole expressed concern that the provisions in those clauses would not be introduced until 2014. These clauses deal with the role of local authorities in policing site licence conditions and stepping in to carry out works for the health and safety of residents should the park owner fail to carry them out. She asked that this matter be looked at again because she and colleagues were concerned about how people would feel if they were in a difficult situation and, although legislation was in place, it was not being implemented.
Peter Aldous MP responded by saying that he thoroughly appreciated that point. ‘The situation at the moment,’ he said, ‘is that a Government dispensation has been given for the provisions in clause 8 onwards relating to sale blocking to be introduced earlier than the moratorium on new regulations and burdens on micro-businesses would allow.’ However, he said that he had written to the Under Secretary of State for Skills asking if the date for the regulations to be introduced could be brought forward.
Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd) added that if site owners have an asset that is deteriorating or dangerous and they do not fix it, they will know that the local authority will go in and will use top-class tradesmen charging VAT – no dodgy deals, but doing things properly. Hopefully that would be enough of a threat to convince the owners, some of whom are ‘making money out of misery’, that they must invest in their sites and bring them up to proper standards.’
Steve Brine, MP for Winchester, pointed out that if the moratorium remains in place and Peter Aldous is unsuccessful in his correspondence with the Under Secretary of State for Skills, there was a possible ‘silver lining’. Site owners who are not carrying out the work will have 18 months to two years to get on with it, before the law comes into place and makes them do so.
Clause 7 relates to the Residential Property Tribunals and the amendment in this section concerns the maximum amount of costs the tribunal can award against a party that has acted unreasonably in connection with proceedings before a tribunal. The figure stipulated is £500.
Fantastic news! Friday, 30 November saw the safe passage of the Mobile Homes Bill from the House of Commons to the House of Lords with just one last-minute (and very important) amendment. That was that clauses 9 to 12 (those relating to pitch agreements – and the particular bone of contention of sale blocking; pitch fees; and offences) should come into force two months after Royal Assent.
All being well, the Bill will be enacted in the spring of 2013.
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To read more about this topic pick up the January 2013 issue of Park Homes and Holiday Caravan
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