Mobile home park residents 'exploited by rogue landlords'
VULNERABLE people living on mobile home sites are being exploited by "rogue" landlords, a council has warned.
South Gloucestershire Council said the law did not offer protection to residents. Its comments are among those made to a committee of MPs that says it has been told of landlords harassing home-owners, increasing their charges and making it impossible for them to sell up.
In a report published today, the local government select committee calls for site owners to be stripped of the right to "approve" buyers of homes, which gives them an effective veto on sales in many cases, and said councils should be given the power to impose unlimited fines for landlords who break the rules.
Park homes are low-cost, mobile bungalow-style residential properties, often occupied by retired and elderly people.
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There are a number of sites in South Gloucestershire, the council said, some of which had never been properly registered, and others that had "given rise to significant concerns". The council called for the "antiquated and inadequate" legislation governing the sites to be updated.
It said: "Many residents using this type of residence could be considered amongst the more vulnerable members of our society and deserve appropriate protection from rogue and unscrupulous trading practices: the current legislative provision does not do this."
The council called for the long-winded legal process involved in revoking a licence to be improved. Currently, councils have to wait until site-owners have breached the conditions of their licence at least twice. This leaves residents in a "potentially dangerous" situation, it said.
Calling for a "fit and proper" test to be introduced for owners, it said the current system offered "next to no protection" to residents from any unscrupulous owner who abused their position. Residents will have suffered, moved on or even died by the time action can be taken, it said.
About 160,000 people live in 84,000 park homes in England. Concerns about the treatment of residents have been raised in Parliament by Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti, who had told MPs that some park owners vetoed sales of homes so they could buy them at a "knock-down rate" to be sold on.
The government has put forward proposals to toughen up the rules, but the committee of MPs said it did not go far enough.