The Minister for Housing and Local Government (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps): The Government values the role the park home sector plays in the housing market offering an affordable alternative to mainstream housing for many people, often over the age of fifty, in mainly rural, semi-rural and seaside locations. Although many residents appreciate and value the sense of community that park home living engenders, I am aware that many also experience difficulties in exercising their rights and achieving their aspirations. Furthermore, a minority of site owners continue to cause significant problems to residents and the local community in which they operate.
I am, therefore, today announcing that the Government intends, subject to Parliamentary consent, to transfer most of the functions of County Courts under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 to Residential Property Tribunals. The aim of the transfer of the jurisdiction is to provide residents of park homes and their site owners, with a level playing field in the resolution of disputes, by providing access to a dedicated, low cost specialist (housing) tribunal, which can deal with cases quickly and effectively, without the parties needing to be legally represented. This will mean that park home residents will be able to take action to resolve disputes with site owners, without being restricted by the prospect of facing large legal costs.
I propose to lay before Parliament the necessary secondary legislation to effect the transfer as soon as possible after summer recess, with a view to transferring jurisdiction to the Residential Property Tribunals by the end of the year.
I am also announcing my intention to work closely with interested resident and industry partners in developing potential measures for empowering residents to exercise more control over the management of sites, where there are management failings by site owners which significantly impact upon the well-being of the local communities.