A guide to pitch licence agreements for static caravan holiday homes

This article is aimed at those who own static holiday caravans situated on holiday parks. It should also prove useful for those who are thinking about static caravan ownership. It is designed to help you find out whether the terms of agreement with the owner of a caravan park are fair and transparent, and to highlight what static caravan owner’s rights you may have. It does not cover other forms of caravan agreement, such as those for residential park homes which are available for occupation all-year round.

Caravan park holiday home agreements explained.

The agreement between you and operator or owner of the caravan park is a legally binding contract which will affect any future use of your caravan, how much you will pay and what you will receive in return for payment. It is therefore incredibly important that you understand the terms of this agreement.

Both you and the owner of the park have legal rights and responsibilities, as covered in your caravan holiday home agreement. This agreement should be legibly drafted in as clear and concise language as possible. This will help you to clearly understand your obligations. It should also inform you as to what you can expect from the owner of the caravan park on which your holiday home is situated.

The owner of the park should avoid using unfair terms when drawing up an agreement. They are not obliged to unfairly take away any legal rights you may have. If any terms are found to be manifestly unfair, these will not be legally binding on you, and your current park operator shouldn’t be able to rely on them in a dispute.

Only a court is legally allowed to decide if the terms of your caravan holiday home agreement are unfair. You should therefore read the terms multiple times to ensure you are happy with them prior to signing anything. Do not sign the agreement if it contains information you do not understand, or terms you disagree with/are otherwise unprepared to abide by.

If you require further assistance or advice regarding an agreement which is already in place, you should contact a consumer rights organisation or perhaps even seek legal advice.

Your caravan park holiday home agreement: things to consider

To avoid any potential misunderstanding or confusion, you should receive the terms and conditions of your holiday home agreement in writing. Before you agree to sign anything, you should do everything you can to ensure that you have all relevant information to help you make your decision.

It’s worth bearing in mind that you require a pitch to use a static caravan as a holiday home. Your agreement with the park owner should therefore comprise a contract for the sale of your caravan, along with a licence that provides you with permission to use the pitch.

When checking your agreement, it is imperative that you check how long your caravan is entitled to be kept on the pitch for, and whether it is long enough for you. For example, if you are intending on using your static caravan as a holiday home for the next ten or even fifteen years, you might feel like an annual licence will not be sufficient, or you might find that renewing the agreement every year is too inconvenient.

Licences of short duration do very little to provide caravan owners with security. When short licences come up for renewal, you might even find that the owner of the caravan park might offer to renew it under less favourable terms.

What happens if the caravan park owner wants to replace older static caravans with newer models?

From time to time, caravan park owners may decide that the park is due an upgrade. This could involve asking you to replace your static caravan holiday home with a new one. You should find out when this is likely to happen, and you should also ask some questions regarding any changes. Under these circumstances, you may wish to glean the following information:

Static caravan holiday home
  • What is the caravan worth?
  • How old is the caravan?
  • What is the rate of depreciation on this caravan model?
  • What is park operator’s criteria for deciding whether a caravan no longer meets the standards required for the park?
The pitch
  • Where is your pitch located?
  • How big is your pitch?
  • What type of pitch is it?
  • How long is the pitch licence agreement for?
  • Can you renew your pitch licence, and how long can it be renewed for?
The caravan park
  • Does the caravan park have planning permission?
  • Are there any conditions imposed by the local authority that are likely to affect me?
  • How long is the park open for throughout the year – and when does it close/reopen?
Entitlements as per the agreement
  • Are there any arrangements for winter storage on the park?
  • What amenities are available for my use?
  • What services does the park owner provide?
  • Are there any plans to develop the site?
  • Is there any planned maintenance scheduled to take place?
Other payments
  • How much is the annual fee to use the pitch?
  • What are the payment arrangements? (for example, up-front or in monthly instalments).
  • What are the criteria for increases in pitch fees?
  • How rapidly have pitch fees risen in the past?
  • How much does electricity cost?
  • How much do other utilities (water and drainage for example) cost?
  • Do you have to insure your caravan through a block insurance policy arranged by the park?
  • Is there an administrative charge if you choose an independent insurance policy instead?
  • Are there any other fees or charges to take into consideration?
Rules
  • What are the rules and regulations of the park?
  • Are there any restrictions on the use of your caravan?
  • Are there any restrictions on the ownership or sale of your caravan to a third party?
  • Under what circumstances could your caravan be removed from the park?
  • What is the length of notice required to leave the site?
  • Is there a refunds policy in place in the event of being asked to leave the site?
In case things go wrong
  • What disputes procedures do the park operators have in place?
  • Is the park owner a member of a trade association or any other organisation which follows a code of practice?

Your static caravan holiday home agreement

In some circumstances, you may be requested to comply with extra terms and conditions outside of your existing holiday home agreement. Regardless, all terms and conditions should be easy to understand.

Don’t be afraid to take the time to read over the following:

  • The contract for the sale of your caravan
  • The licence for your pitch
  • Park rules and regulations
  • Any credit agreements

The best practice is to avoid allowing yourself to be rushed into making a decision. If you are unsure about what any terms covered in the agreement actually mean, you should be prepared to ask for an explanation. It makes sense to know what you are agreeing to right now. This means you won’t be stung by any unexpected outcomes as a result of not knowing the terms and conditions you have signed up to.

Understanding unfair terms

Terms that you have no say in, have no choice over, or terms which provide the park owner with an unfair advantage over you can be classed as unfair terms. It’s important to remember that the owner of the caravan park should be willing to deal fairly and transparently with you. Unfortunately, a small number of unscrupulous park owners will try to hide unfair terms within the details and small print. You should be wary of this – be on the lookout for the following sorts of exploitative terms:

  • Terms that try to exclude the park owner from any legal liabilities.
  • Terms that could potentially impose unfair restrictions, obligations or penalties on you.
  • Unclear terms which do not concisely point out what you are required to pay for, resulting in unexpected bills.
  • Terms which feature jargon or overly long sentences.
You should consider getting advice from a consumer watchdog group, citizens’ advice or a solicitor if you feel like a park owner is:
  • Attempting to use unfair terms to their advantage/your disadvantage.
  • Not providing you with an explanation to terms you do not understand.
Things you should look out for before signing a caravan park holiday home agreement.

Remember to always thoroughly read any terms and conditions prior to signing any agreement. If needs be, don’t be afraid to get a friend, relative or professional to also look at your agreement. Having a second pair of eyes cast over a document could help highlight something you missed at first glance. You should be on the lookout for terms which:

  • Absolve the park owner of any liability to supply you with a caravan that is fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and matches the description given.
  • Absolve the park owner of any liability for negligence which results in injury, death, damage to your caravan, or damage to your vehicle and other possessions.
  • Are unclear about what you are required to pay upfront and what you may be expected to pay at a later date.
  • Allow the owner of the park to make significant changes to any rights or obligations without good reason.
  • Allow the owner to make significant changes to any rights or obligations without consulting you.
  • Tie you into purchasing goods or services (such as an insurance policy) from the owner of the park without a valid reason.
  • Allow the owner of the park to move you from your existing pitch to another without any valid reason to.
  • Allow the owner of the park to move you from your original pitch to a pitch which is not comparable with the one described in the agreement.
  • Prevent you from selling your caravan and transferring your pitch licence to a third party (park owners can legitimately require that you seek their consent prior to a sale, but are not allowed to unreasonably refuse or block a sale – on grounds of discrimination, for example).
  • Allow the owner of the park to force you to purchase a new caravan in order to stay on the park, even if your existing caravan is of a high standard and still within its licence period.
  • Provide the park owner with the right to sell your possessions so that they may recover any money you owe them.
  • Force you to pay excessive interest rates or penalty charges in the event of late payment of fees.
  • Provide the park owner with the freedom to decide the meaning of each of the terms in the agreement.
  • Provide the park owner with the freedom to decide when/where you are in breach of the agreement so that they can penalise you.
  • Provide the park owner with the potential to end your agreement due to minor breaches.
  • Impose unreasonable or unethical restrictions on the conditions of use for your caravan.
  • Refer to other terms or documents which you have yet to see.
  • Use legalese, are overly long or otherwise unclear in meaning.

Where can I get advice regarding my static caravan holiday home agreement?

If you are unsure about any or all of the terms in your holiday home agreement, you may wish to seek advice. There are several different organisations which can provide you with information and even look at your terms and conditions to decide whether they are fair or unfair. These organisations include:

Consumer Direct (England & Wales) Consumerline (Northern Ireland) Citizens Advice
  • Your local citizens’ advice may be able to offer drop-in appointments. For further information, check local directory information or visit citizensadvice.org.uk.
AdviceUK

If you would like to make a complaint in writing regarding the unfair terms offered by a caravan park owner, you can do so (while also enclosing a copy of the agreement) to:

Enquiries
Office of Fair Trading
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Sq.
London
EC4Y 8JX

General caravan holiday home advice

If you require general advice pertaining to your holiday home and/or caravan park agreement, you can contact the British Holiday & Home Park Association via the following:

Why use us?

When it comes to life’s big decisions, finding the right advice can make all the difference. Salop Leisure’s matching service will provide you with unbiased advice and a personalised service from an expert who is focused on your best interest.