Caravan site legal issues

The following is an outline of some of the key pieces of legislation that may apply to your business. The list is not intended to be exhaustive. Note that if you plan to sell alcohol from a bar or catering outlet on the site you will need to contact your local licensing authority to find out how to obtain the licences you may need (a premises licence and a personal licence).

What licences does a caravan site need?

Site licence

All but the very smallest caravan sites must obtain a licence from the local authority and must comply with the conditions set out in the licence. There are also other licences that may be applicable, depending on the activities that you carry out on your site.

Alcohol licensing

If you decide to sell alcohol - either from an on-site shop or a clubhouse - then you'll need to be appropriately licensed.

In England and Wales, the Licensing Act regulates the sale of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment and the supply of hot food between the hours of 11pm and 5am - 'late night refreshment'. A premises licence is required for any premises where these activities will take place (late night refreshment activities may in some cases be covered by an exemption), and a personal licence is required by anyone who wants to sell alcohol from premises which have a premises licence. (Changes to the legislation from 2015 mean that some premises may be exempted from the late night refreshment requirement at the discretion of individual local authorities.) The Gov.uk website contains more information about alcohol and entertainment licensing.

In Scotland, there is a system of personal and premises licences similar to that in England and Wales with alcohol licences granted by local Licensing Boards. You can read more about alcohol licensing in Scotland on the Scottish Government website.

In Northern Ireland, alcohol licences are granted by the county court. The alcohol licensing system in Northern Ireland is more stringent than elsewhere in the UK and licences are generally more difficult - and often much more costly - to obtain. You can read more about alcohol licensing in Northern Ireland on the NI Direct website.

Money laundering

The Money Laundering Regulations apply to 'high value dealers', including caravan sites, who accept the equivalent of 10,000 euros in cash for any transaction - for example on the sale of a new caravan. If you handle transactions of this size you must register with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and put in place anti-money laundering systems.

Other things to consider

In addition you should be aware of the following:

  • if credit facilities are offered to customers - for example on the sale of a new caravan - you will need consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • if you arrange insurance cover for privately owned caravans on your site you need to be either directly authorised by the FCA or become an 'appointed representative' of a principal FCA authorised insurer
  • if background music is provided in your shop (if you have one) or any other location you are likely to need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd. You'll need an MPLC licence if you plan to screen films and TV shows
  • if you use CCTV systems you may be required to register as a data user with the Information Commissioner's Office. From May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation has introduced additional protection for personal data

Planning permission and site licensing

You will need to obtain planning permission for your site if you're setting up from scratch and, under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act, all but the very smallest caravan sites need to be licensed. Tent sites are licensed under the Public Health Act 1936. Contact your local authority for details.

Mobile Homes Act for residential sites

This Act protects the rights of both park home residents and the owners of residential home parks. For example, a resident has a right to a written agreement and to security of tenure. Park owners are entitled to a commission when a resident sells their park home and assigns the agreement to someone else. A new Mobile Homes Act in England came into force in 2013 which gives better protection to park home residents. A similar law was passed in Wales in 2014, under which licensing of residential home parks is now carried out. (They were previously licensed under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act. Local authorities in Wales were granted a six-month period to October 2014 in which to revoke and relicense all affected sites.) There is detailed guidance on park home legislation available on the Gov.uk website.

Water resale

There is legislation in place that regulates the amount that mobile-home site owners can charge residents for water and sewerage services. You can find out more about this in the OFWAT publication A guide to water resale which is available to download from the OFWAT website.

Resale of gas and electricity

The maximum price at which gas and electricity can be resold is the same price that the person reselling it paid for it, including any standing charges. If you resell electricity and gas and price it to make a profit, the amount overcharged can be recovered together with interest. The maximum resale price regulations do not apply to the resale of LPG, whether in cylinders or through bulk tank systems. You can find more information about reselling gas and electricity on the Ofgem website.

Money laundering

The Money Laundering Regulations apply to 'high value dealers', including caravan sites, who accept the equivalent of 10,000 euros in cash for any transaction - for example on the sale of a new caravan. If you handle transactions of this size you must register with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and put in place anti-money laundering systems.

Retailing

If you have a site shop you should be aware that there is a wide range of legislation that applies to retail outlets and that protects the interests of the consumer. For example, goods and services must not be misleadingly described and the retail price of goods must be clearly displayed. You will be responsible for making sure that all goods or services are fit for their intended purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a caravan site

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • site premises, including installations, boundaries, buildings and site-owned caravans and park homes
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • motor insurance (for business vehicles)

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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