Buying a park home in the UK is seen as an attractive option for many people. In 2019, the government estimated there were 85,000 households living in park homes across 2000 sites throughout the UK.
Park homes are relatively inexpensive when compared to bricks-and-mortar properties. The sites that park homes are on can also be appealing for people looking for a sense of community, either as a full-time permanent resident or for use as a holiday home. Despite relatively low maintenance costs and efficient use of energy, park homes are not without their challenges.
The rules around buying park homes are markedly different from bricks-and-mortar properties. Here, I explain how to make the park home buying and selling process as easy as possible by shedding light on some of these differences.
Park homes are chattels
The usual conveyancing protocols related to the buying and selling of bricks-and-mortar properties do not apply to park homes. Park homes are considered to be chattels and are therefore not subject to registration at the Land Registry.
All parks should have a site licence issued by the Local Authority in which the site is situated. This site licence will state whether the site is a holiday site, fully residential, or both.
When buying a park home you should first ensure that the site the home is on is classed as a ‘protected site’ (if the buyer wants to live there all year round). This means that the site must have planning permission and a site licence from the local authority for 12-month occupation.
The Mobile Homes Act 1983 gives a number of rights and protections to park homeowners who occupy the home as their own or main residence, if it is situated on a protected site. Buyers should double-check the status of the park with the site owner and get confirmation in writing before making a purchase.
You can’t get a traditional mortgage on a park home
Unlike a traditional bricks-and-mortar house, buyers cannot get a mortgage on a park home. This is because the land the park home stands on is owned by the site owner, not the residents. With a traditional residential home, mortgages are secured against the property owner’s title on HM Land Registry.
While all park homes are sold outright, the resident also pays rent to the site owner for the plot of land (or ‘pitch’) on which their home is situated.
When advising buyers on the purchase of a park home, they can either be bought outright, as they tend to be cheaper than traditional brick-and-mortar houses, or with the arrangement of a specialist loan agreement.
Check the pitch fees
There are charges (pitch fees) payable to the site owner for use of the site, typically ranging from £60 a month to over £200 per month. This will depend on location, the size of the home and the amenities on the site but it’s important to clarify this before the sale process begins.
The terms of the pitch agreement will set out the amount of the pitch fee and when is it to be paid to the site owner. Sometimes the pitch fee will include utilities and, if that is the case, the agreement should clearly set this out. The pitch fee can be reviewed annually, but in order to do so, the site owner must serve a pitch fee review notice and the pitch fee review from 28 days before the review, explaining the proposed changes in detail.
There are several other things to be aware of when selling and buying these types of properties, including commission to be paid to the site owner and where current owners can find out their rights. LEASE has a dedicated park homes website featuring free, impartial legal advice. In addition to this, both the Government and LEASE strongly recommend that buyers and sellers seek their own legal advice from a specialist in park homes, even though it’s not a legal requirement.
By Anna Tomasik, Legal Adviser at The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE)