New powers to protect the rights of park home owners and stamp out unscrupulous site owners have been brought into force, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins announced.
Action taken by the government means that councils have new powers to tackle poor conditions on park home sites. This marks a historic shift for park homes residents with these changes to licensing laws being the first in half a century.
Previously, councils had little power to step in and normally could only prosecute through the courts. But now, councils will be able to tackle problems early and give park owners a chance to put things right by serving a notice outlining the action that needs to be taken, by a given deadline.
With over 2,000 park homes sites across the country Mr Hopkins said it was about time action was taken to give councils the ability to protect park home residents and crack down on owners who do not maintain or properly manage sites.
To ensure fairness Mr. Hopkins reassured park home residents that where further action was taken to ensure site owners followed council orders they would be prevented from passing on any of the costs to residents
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said:
For too long park home residents have been left to the whims of site owners while councils were powerless to step in when conditions were bad.
This government have taken action to shift power back to residents, and thanks to our changes councils can now ensure that the site owners that need to up their game do so, and provide the high quality service expected, without passing costs on.
Where unscrupulous site owners refuse to clean up their act, they will now face court action and substantial fines for their poor performance.
A fair deal for taxpayers
Mr Hopkins also made clear today that enforcing a fair deal for park home residents should not fall unfairly on Council Tax payers or be used as a cash cow for councils.
New guidance has set the terms under which councils can charge for the licenses they provide site owners. In particular, fees can only be used to recover the costs of licensing park home sites – such as visits by inspectors, or the costs of processing applications.
Councils will not be able to make a profit from these fees – and may choose not to charge fees at all. Any fees set should be consistent with other charges the council imposes, and councils could choose to make certain exemptions, for example, for smaller sites.
The minister was clear that where fees are charged, site owners and residents have a right to expect a licensing service above and beyond that which they currently receive for free.