10 things to consider when buying a Park Home
Here are the top 10 questions you'll need answer before considering buying a Park Home
HOW DOES OWNERSHIP WORK?
Park home ownership differs from traditional bricks-and-mortar properties in that you own the home but not the land it sits on.
The owner of the land is the park operator, who will lease it to you as part of the purchase. Because the park home is not linked to a plot of land, you can’t take out a mortgage, so other forms of finance have to be obtained if you want to go down that route. There are several lenders who specialise in park homes and they will be able to provide quotes based on a variety of factors specific to the home you want to buy. As always, when it comes to finance, shop around and compare what is on offer before committing.
CAN I LIVE THERE ALL YEAR?
Before buying a park home, it is vitally important to check that the site has planning permission and a licence from the local authority that allows you to live there all year. Some parks’ conditions mean you would have to move out for a month or two every year; these are licenced as holiday home parks. Before agreeing to sign, make sure you, or preferably a solicitor, check the site licence and your written agreement with the park operator thoroughly. It has been known for people to somehow manage to buy a park home for all-year-round occupation and later discover they are only allowed to stay for a limited portion of the year.
NEW OR OLD?
The type of park home you choose will be determined by a number of factors, including size, location, style and features – but inevitably budget will be the biggest consideration. A pre-owned home might seem an attractively economical option but you do need to take into account the additional costs of renovations, modernisation and ongoing maintenance, which will undoubtedly be higher on older park homes – just as is the case when buying a bricks-and-mortar home.
Prices for new park homes range from around £70,000 to more than £400,000 depending on the location and services on the park, as well as the home itself, while it’s possible to buy a pre-owned park home for around £50,000.
WHAT ARE PITCH FEES?
A pitch fee is the charge – usually monthly – that you pay the park owner for use of the site. It usually includes a ground rent for the land your home occupies plus the general upkeep and maintenance of the site’s communal areas and facilities, such as roads and street lighting.
Fees vary depending on the site. A monthly charge can range from £120 to £200, and in most cases it doesn’t include any utility bills. Some parks may require you to pay weekly, others monthly or annually.
Before increasing pitch fees, the park owner must complete a Pitch Fee Review Notice and provide 28 days’ written notice, explaining the proposed changes in detail. Any disputes over increases are resolved through a Government tribunal.
WHAT OTHER FEES DO I HAVE TO PAY?
In addition to your pitch fees, you will of course have to pay for electricity, gas and water, just as you would for a bricks-and-mortar home. Normally the park owners will pay a central bill for the whole park, and charge individual residents based on how much they have used. Under Ofgem rules, they can’t charge you for more than you have used. You will need to pay your own council tax, which usually falls into Band A, the cheapest category. And you might also need to pay for ongoing maintenance on your plot.
WHAT ARE THE LEGALITIES?
Before you occupy your new park home you must sign a Written Statement under the Mobile Homes Act, which sets out the park owner’s obligations to you as a resident, and your obligations to them. It can include details of ground rent as well as the homeowner’s duty to keep their home in good repair and the site operator’s obligation to keep the park well maintained.
WHAT ARE MY NEIGHBOURS LIKE?
A good way to find out what a site is really like is to chat with other home owners. Not only can they fill you in about the local area but they will hopefully give you an honest opinion on what’s good and, just as importantly, anything that’s not so good about the park. You’ll also get an idea of whether they are the sort of people you want to live alongside. Community is one of the most important aspects of residential park living and you need to feel confident that you’ll fit in and be happy there.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE RULES ON THE PARK?
Every residential park home estate has its own rules and it is important to find out from the park owner in advance what these are.
There are rules that regulate everything from the height of fences and the dimensions of garden sheds to disposal of rubbish and the colour of your home’s exterior. Many are common sense, such as noise restrictions, speed limits and parking limitations. However, others might affect your decision as to which park to choose. For example, the vast majority of park home estates have rules on the age of residents – some parks won’t let you move in if you are under 50 years old, while others have a minimum age of 55, others 45.
Limits on pet ownership are also commonplace; some sites allow one dog, others two. Some don’t allow any pets at all.
Park owners will be required to consult with residents if they wish to introduce new park rules.
WILL I BE ABLE SELL MY PARK HOME?
Yes. If you decide to sell, you can put your park home on the open market without having to get permission from the site operator. In fact, under the Mobile Homes Act 2013, park owners are prevented from getting involved in the sale in any way. Site owners are entitled in law to receive a commission on the sale of a park home of up to 10 per cent of the sale price.