More than 40 per cent of park homes residents have told a consumer watchdog they feel unable to sell or buy their home freely due to a fear of site owners blocking sales.
Research into life on park home sites in Wales by Consumer Focus Wales shows that almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of park home residents who were interviewed have experienced problems on their site in the past five years, while 29 per cent have experienced problems with site maintenance, security or safety standards.
Consumer Focus Wales is backing the National Assembly’s consultation on park homes, led by backbencher Peter Black AM, and supports proposals to remove the site owner’s veto on sales. Police evidence has shown that the veto has attracted rogue site operators into the industry and the consumer watchdog believes that reforming the sales process would protect thousands of park home residents.
Local authorities have also told the consumer watchdog that penalties are not severe enough for rogue site owners, while it is almost impossible to revoke a licence. The high costs of potential court cases against rogue site owners means that local authorities are reluctant to take action which might affect vulnerable residents.
Consumer Focus Wales is also calling for park homes licensing to be better co-ordinated between local authorities, ideally led at a national level by one Welsh authority. A central licensing team would keep accurate records, provide a central point of information and ensure consistency in standards and work across Wales.
Lowri Jackson, park homes specialist at Consumer Focus Wales, said:
‘This consultation on park homes, which will feed into Peter Black’s Member Bill, is an important step in improving the lives of park homes residents. We know that there are many good site owners, running well managed park home sites, but we also know that there are a number of site owners who are making the lives of their residents miserable.
‘Our research shows that the threat of sale blocking affects park home residents across Wales and this must be eradicated by the removal of the site owner’s veto on park home sales.
‘We believe that this is an opportunity to create a national park homes team, based in a Welsh local authority, which would be given overall responsibility for the new licensing regime and will be calling for this to be contained within the resulting bill. This central team would work in partnership with inspection and enforcement across Wales and would ensure national consistency and transparency for residents.
‘We would like any new bill to overcome the current barriers preventing effective enforcement. Any new regime needs to be dynamic, robust and have the legal powers to punish site owners, protect residents and provide a greater incentive to raise the standards of the industry.’
Notes to editors:
- We commissioned IFF Research to undertake telephone interviews with park home residents across Wales. In total 264 residents took park in the research.
- Residents were identified to take part in two ways. Firstly, we encouraged residents to make contact and share their experiences of living on a park home site, through a range of sources including trusted intermediaries such as advice agencies, the media and campaign groups. We spoke to 101 residents using this approach.
- Secondly we used a commercial sample provider, targeting postcodes where park home sites were located, calling these contacts and asking them if they would be willing to take part. We spoke to 163 residents through this route.
- All residents who took park were interviewed between 8th December 2011 and 1st March 2012 and were from a wide mix of park home sites located across Wales.
Click the following link to view the official consultation: http://assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-legislation/mobile_homes_wales_bill.htm (english)