Mobile Home Parks

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:15 pm on 2nd March 2009.

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Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Conservative, Suffolk Coastal 10:15 pm, 2nd March 2009

One of the great privileges of being a Member of Parliament is that, in this the most important debating chamber in the world, one can raise issues that really matter to one's constituents. I have rarely been as angry about a matter as I am about this case.

Two of my constituents, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, have suffered the awful indignity of Mr. Ellis having had three strokes. He is therefore unable easily to look after himself and has to be looked after day and night. They decided that it would be a good thing if they had a mobile home that was easy for them to deal with. They went to a country park in my constituency, Carlton Meres, which was run extremely well by a charming couple, and they bought a mobile home at a cost of £28,280, on condition that there would be a proper path to the home and a proper ramp for Mr. Ellis's wheelchair to be pushed along so that he could use the home. Without those, there was no possibility of its being used. I have here the sales purchase agreement that was made, at the bottom of which it says: "Ramp to be provided". The ramp was not provided.

A couple of months later, the couple were told that the ownership of the park had changed. The ramp had still not been provided. By the time it came to October—they having bought the home in March and hardly having been able to enter it, let alone use it—they decided that they would sell it. Under their original agreement, it was said that they would certainly be able to sell it at a proper price. Indeed, late in October, the salesman told them that the selling price should be more or less what they paid for it because it was new and had not been used. In the event, they were provided with a sum so derisory that it is almost impossible to repeat it—having paid £28,280, a few months later they were given £8,000.

When the couple complained, the solicitor for the company, one Mr. Johar of Leicester, said that the reason for that reduced sum was that the ownership of the company had changed and they did not have an agreement with the new owners. When they wrote to me with the document, an eagle-eyed assistant of mine noticed that the name of the company from which they had purchased in the first place was the same as that of those owners. True, the directors had changed, but the company was the same company, so under the law it was responsible for everything that the previous company had agreed to.

I got in touch with the company and said this seemed to me an entirely unacceptable proposition. It did not answer any letters—that, of course, is the convenient way in which these people behave—so I looked it up and discovered that it already had a history of taking over perfectly well-run sites and then behaving in this appalling manner. I shall give one example: the Riverview and Silver Sands caravan sites in Scotland, about which the list of complaints continues. The owner appears to be a Mr. Barney, who appears on all occasions calling himself Tony and, of course, never giving his full name. It turned out that he told all the owners of the static holiday caravans that they would be required to remove them at the end of the season because he would be replacing them with residential homes. He was told by park residents and the holiday caravan owners that the site licence did not allow for that, but he made light of that, saying that it would not be a problem. He was very upset when they identified him because he is known in the business. If one looks up his directorships, one finds a whole list of caravan sites where that kind of activity continues.

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Annotations

barbara richards
Posted on 3 Mar 2009 12:03 pm (Report this annotation)

Mr Gummer,

Thank you for what you are doing for vunerable people.

I have met corrupt solicitors, within the secret family courts, and it is a scandal what they are getting away with. The Law Society is just as bad, because it protects corrupt solicitors.

Thank you for what you are doing.

Ross Mackenzie
Posted on 4 Mar 2009 11:04 am (Report this annotation)

Mr. Wright appears to be in a mindset over why he should not assist Mobile Home owners with new protective and enforceable legislation. Indeed, during his response to Mr. Gummer’s admirable opening address and other speakers’ contributions to the debate, he refers to Quote: If we addressed that specific point by addressing the specific rights of caravan owners, we would open up a huge range of issues regarding property, which would be counter-productive – end Quote.

Mr. Wright needs to understand that we are not discussing extremely mobile caravans; we are discussing the occupancy of wholly resident-owned (Mobile) Homes which are normally permanently sited for decades.

There needs to be a complete legal division between Caravans and Mobile Homes. Mobile Homes fall into the same category as post-war pre-fabs and are just as permanent when sited. When occupied and kitted out, they also weigh several tons. The misnomer ‘Mobile’ refers solely to the fact that these are prefabricated buildings which, for convenience of handling, are fitted with wheels to make delivery by low-loader trailer and siting much easier – without the need for a crane. These wheels are suitable for inching speeds only and are unlikely to survive even a 30mph 10 mile delivery tow.

Pre-fabs are covered by existing bricks-and-mortar property laws and so should (Mobile) Homes. Both the pitch Tenant and the pitch Landlord’s rights could be just as adequately covered – possibly with a few minor adjustments - by existing bricks-and-mortar Landlord/Tenant occupancy legislation.

Marie Moran
Posted on 1 Jun 2009 6:12 pm (Report this annotation)

Barbara and Ross, how right you both are.
We are going through a problem right now on our park.

We have mostly older homes that are around 37 years of age, some newer homes and also rented accommodation that belong to the landlord.

We are supposed to be a semi retired park, though it does not apply to the rented homes, this rule was never officially changed, we were told that from a certain date, that will be when the change in the rules will apply.

For years we accepted it as we never had any real problems, until now, a whole new story!

Our older homes are still safe, sound and as we look after them, they are still as good as any newer mobile home you can buy, we are very happy with them.
Now, we can not have any work done to our homes to keep them to that standard, no refurbishment company are allowed on the park, also, we can not sell our homes.

We have been told that none of the older homes can ever be sold now or in the future as the landlord wants to upgrade, I bet you have heard about this worrying situation from other parks before, so many people, especially the semi retired are going through the very same thing!

Where does that leave us, in a situation that calls for someone to please take responsibility, this can not go on.

I agree that we should be in the same category as pre-fabs, well done Ross in bringing this up, we applaud you.

I nearly did not post this as I worry about mine and my husband's future but I am passionate about this whole sorry saga we are in.