06 April 2022

The ending of COVID restrictions has meant that normal service can be resumed and SCOPHRA's face to face contact with Scottish Government officials can also resume.

Prior to the pandemic officials had been invited to visit park home sites for an in-depth familiarisation of park home living and this invitation was taken up on 31 March 2022.

Two officials visited Willow Wood Park in West Lothian where the qualifying residents association showed them round the park, visiting several homes and having an hour-long discussion with residents about the park home way of life.  The discussion was lively with searching questions on either side.

The officials then participated in a ZOOM meeting with all the members of the SCOPHRA Executive committee chaired by Jim Haluch to look at SCOPHRA’s aims for 2022 and its contribution to the promised review of Park Home licensing to take place during the current parliament.

It was obvious that the department at the Scottish Government had been continually active in researching park home issues and had been in contact with local authorities on various licensing matters.  From the questioning, the officials sought to understand the problems that residents faced which ranged from site owners’ reluctance to provide written statements and utility bill information to unauthorised placing of homes without planning permission.

The discussion particularly addressed the difficulties residents faced in obtaining justice and the costs and timescales of Sheriff court action.  SCOPHRA suggested that the current Scottish Housing Tribunal could take on park homes work as in England, but it was pointed out that primary legislation would be required which would take time.  Officials wondered if The Sheriff Court Simple Procedure would work as an alternative and both parties agreed to explore this further.

SCOPHRA presented a census of member parks listing numbers of pitches and estimated number of residents. When extrapolated this suggested that there are some 6000 residential pitches in Scotland with around 9000 residents although SCOPHRA made the officials aware of its concern at the number of people living on holiday sites as permanent residents.

The SCOPHRA team outlined its wish list for the coming year which the Executive had compiled from a survey of member parks during February and March 2022. In order of priority these are:

  1. These issues are (in order of priority):
    1. Seek to review the general licence conditions attached to site licences to include conditions which:
      • demand that site owners’ issue Written Statements (WS) as required by the MHA and the right of the LA to enforce the contents of the WS.
      • Reinforce residents’ rights to transparency in the compilation of utility charges.
      • Demand that site owners recognise Qualifying Residents Associations as required by the WS.
      • Ensure that licence conditions contain reference to park rules guidance in line with The Mobile Homes (Site Rules) (England) Regulations 2014 
      • Ensure that licence conditions are consistent across Scotland and are consistently enforced across all LAs.
    2. Seek a review of the rights of site owners to a 10% commission on sales of homes.
    3. Seek to have the annual pitch fee increase linked to CPI rather than RPI.
    4. Seek the extension of The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber to cover park home issues.
    5. Take serious action against holiday site owners who sell home as ‘permanent’ residences and thus defraud buyers.
    6. Review the ‘Model Standards for Residential Mobile Home Site Licences’ issued in 2018.
    7. Review the ‘Guidance to Local Authorities on the Licensing System for Mobile Homes Sites with Permanent Residents’ issued in 2017.
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