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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Winning the lottery

I was a bit stunned but very pleased yesterday to discover that my name has been drawn to introduce private members' legislation in the Welsh Assembly.

My aim is to impose stricter controls over Park Home site owners. If I am given leave to proceed my Bill will aim to provide better protection to those who own property within Park Home (Mobile Home) sites and monitor and regulate site owners.

At present there is little protection for residents from unscrupulous Park Homes site owners, a minority of which may exploit their position for personal gain. Problems can include poor site management, and vetoing or deterring legitimate sales.

Meetings between potential buyers and site owners will be independently monitored and a system of arbitration will be established for for park home owners who feel that they have lost money as a result of undue interference.

The Bill will also develop a “fit and proper” persons test for park home site owners, acting as a licensing system, so that park home owners can be confident that their park home site is effectively managed.
Congratulations Peter. It is a worthy issue to pursue, as we have had several cases regarding mobile homes. (Residents of these homes wish them to be known as Park Homes as they are ‘not strictly mobile’).

A major issue you may want to pursue is that because of the ‘designation’ of their homes, many elderly residents are ineligible for NEST funding (assistance towards the cost of insulation and replacement boilers). Living in Park homes can be very expensive to keep warm, therefore energy and fuel efficiency is really important. In one site that we have supported, there were 6 deaths over the winter last year. It would be a major boost if resources could be found to ensure that they have equal access to grants for fuel efficiency as other owner-occupiers, or by making them eligible for NEST funding.

Regarding the fit and proper person test, this could be easily overcome via changing company directors, as site managers where the site manager may not actually change, so I’m not sure if this would work.

A right to manage would also be useful to pursue giving power’s to manage directly to the owners of the homes as opposed to the owners of the site.

One way of short-circuiting all of the issues may be to designate them as a form of social housing or residential properties, and therefore fall under the appropriate legal, planning etc requirements.

Enabling a new form of co-operative park home site would also be welcomed particularly if government land can be put in trust to help them develop. They could then self manage.

Steve Clarke, Welsh Tenants Federation
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