Residents of any protected site are entitled to set up a resident’s association to represent themselves as home owners. Under the terms of the Mobile Homes Act 1983, specific conditions must be met in order to establish a qualifying residents’ association. Compliance with these conditions will entitle the members to be recognised by the site owner as a residents’ association and to benefit from the rights which come with that status.
Setting up a qualifying residents’ association
In order to be recognised as a qualifying residents’ association, the following criteria must be met:
- At least half of the home owners on the park must be members. Residents who rent their homes are not permitted to join
- A chairman, secretary and treasurer must be appointed
- Certain documentation must be kept. This includes an up-to-date member list, a constitution and a list of any other rules of the residents’ association. These must be available for public inspection
- Any decisions must be made following a members’ vote. Only one vote is allowed per home. Administrative decisions made by the chairman, secretary or treasurer are exempt from this rule
- The association must have no links to the site owner. The owner, their employees and any agents are not permitted to join
- Membership must be open to all home owners who live on the park. For example, if a husband and wife or two partners live in a park home, both must be allowed to join the association, providing the home is owned in joint names
- The site owner must acknowledge in writing that the association is a qualifying residents’ association
- If the site owner refuses to acknowledge the association in this way, a residential property tribunal may make an order that the association is a qualifying residents’ association
- When drawing up the constitution, it is advisable to use an approved template, as these are more likely to be acknowledged by the site owner. This template is available from the Independent Park Home Advisory Service, National Association of Park Home Residents, National Park Home Council and British Holiday & Home Parks Association, but there is also a version here.
What if an owner owns more than one home on a park?
If more than one home is owned on a park, only one can be counted as their residence for the purpose of becoming a member of a residents’ association and voting. Under the Mobile Homes Act 1983, only one home can be considered a permanent residence. However, if each of the homes is owned by a different person, only the first named individual should be counted for each.
Obtaining the site owner’s acknowledgement
In order to obtain the site owner’s acknowledgement of a qualifying residents’ association, a letter should be sent to the owner, advising of the association’s intentions and asking that the owner’s written acknowledgement is sent to the secretary.
If the owner declines to acknowledge the residents’ association, the association can apply to a residential property tribunal for an order to say that it is a qualifying residents’ association. The relevant application forms and more information on the dispute process are available online.
Changes to the qualifying residents’ association or the site owner
If changes to the residents’ association mean that the conditions listed above are no longer met, the site owner is no longer obliged by law to recognise the association, although they can decide to come to an agreement with the members to continue the association.
If the site changes hands, the association does not need to seek further acknowledgement from the new owner.
What documents is the site owner entitled to view?
The site owner is entitled to view the constitution, member list and the rules of the association, as these must be available for public viewing and will need to be seen in order to verify that the association is a qualifying residents’ association. The owner is not entitled to view meeting minutes or to have any say into how the association is run.
Rights of a qualifying residents’ association
Once the necessary criteria have been satisfied, the qualifying resident’s association is entitled to the following rights:
The site owner must consult the association about all matters relating to the operation or management of the park. Any improvements must also be approved by the residents association. This applies where the residents are affected either directly or indirectly by the proposals. Under this rule, the site owner must:
- Give the association 28 days’ notice of any matters which require consultation
- Describe the proposed changes and any direct or indirect affect they may have on the residents, both in the long term and the short term
- Advise when and where the association can comment
- Take any comments into consideration before proceeding with the proposed changes
Can a residents’ association be set up without qualifying?
Non-qualifying residents’ associations can still be set up but will not be eligible for the consultation rights afforded to qualifying residents’ associations. Many parks continue to operate non-qualifying residents’ associations for purposes such as acting as a social club.
Regardless of the presence of a residents’ association, either qualifying or not, residents must always be consulted about improvements which will affect their pitch fees.
Have you encountered problems with your site owner over a residents’ association? We’d like to hear about your experiences, so please leave us a comment.
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