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Publication - Research Publication

Analysis of responses to consultation on mobile home sites regulations

Published: 14 Oct 2016
Part of:
Housing, Research
ISBN:
9781786525239

Responses received to the proposals for regulations supporting the new licensing system for mobile home sites with permanent residents.

44 page PDF

829.8kB

44 page PDF

829.8kB

Contents
Analysis of responses to consultation on mobile home sites regulations
Timescales

44 page PDF

829.8kB

Timescales

Questions 6 and 7 of the consultation paper covered the timescales for making decisions and giving reasons.

The 2014 Act requires Ministers to set timescales within which a local authority must decide on a licence application, renewal, or transfer. If a local authority does not make a decision within these timescales then an application is automatically approved. If a local authority is considering refusing an application or renewal, it must tell the applicant and give them the opportunity to provide any written comments in response. A local authority must then consider those comments. The time given to an applicant to submit comments, and for the local authority to consider them, is included in the timescales set in regulations. The Scottish Government proposes setting a timescale of 3 months.

Under the 2014 Act the Scottish Ministers can also set the timescales within which a local authority must provide reasons for its decisions under the new licensing system. The Scottish Government proposes requiring a local authority to provide its reasons on the day that it tells an applicant of its decision.

Question 6a: Do you agree with the proposed 3 month time limit for a local authority to decide on an application for a first site licence application?

The first part of Question 6 (recorded as Question 6a within this report) asked respondents whether they agreed with the proposed 3 month time limit for deciding on a first site licence. Responses by respondent type are set out in Table 5 below.

Table 5: Question 6a - responses by respondent type

Type of respondent Yes No Total
Community or residents' group 5 5
Housing Association 1 1
Local Government 3 5 8
Private sector organisation or trade body 1 1
Total Organisations (9) (6) (15)
Individuals 11 2 13
Total 20 8 28

The majority of respondents (20 out of the 28 who answered this question) agreed with the 3 month time limit. However, the majority of local government and private sector or trade body respondents who answered this question did not.

Nineteen respondents made a further comment (10 respondents who had agreed, 8 respondents who had disagreed and one respondent who had not answered Question 6a). Those who had agreed pointed most-frequently to the timescales appearing sufficient, reasonable, or realistic. This included a local government respondent who suggested the timescale was realistic based on their current experience. Another local government respondent who had agreed suggested that, similarly to the planning system, the 3 month period should only begin at receipt of all relevant information to the required standard. A community or residents' group respondent suggested that any guidance should allow for some degree of flexibility. Two local government respondents who had disagreed raised concerns that the information required by local authorities is not always provided in a timely manner. It was suggested that the proposed regulation should include a reference to Section 32B(3) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, as amended, and should take into account the provision or otherwise of information requested under Section 32B(3).

Those who had disagreed generally suggested the proposed 3 month time limit would be insufficient. Five local authority respondents were amongst those taking this view. Comments included that the 3 month time limit may be sufficient for more straightforward cases but would not be long enough to allow for responses from consultees to be received and considered and for reports to Licensing Sub-Committees to be prepared. The potential challenges of fitting into Licensing Sub-Committee timetabling was also highlighted.

Alternative time frames suggested included 12 months (in line with HMO licensing and registration) or 6 months. The latter 6 month suggestion drew on experience of administering the 'fit and proper person' tests which forms part of the landlord registration process.

In contrast, three respondents suggested the 3 month period would be too long. An alternative suggestion was that 2 months should be sufficient since planning consent will already have been obtained and this will have determined the suitability of the site to be used as a park.

Question 6b: Do you agree with the proposed 3 month time limit for a local authority to decide on an application for a licence renewal?

The second part of Question 6 (recorded as Question 6b within this report) asked respondents whether they agreed with the proposed 3 month time limit for deciding on an application for a licence renewal. Responses by respondent type are set out in Table 6 below.

Table 6: Question 6b - responses by respondent type

Type of respondent Yes No Total
Community or residents' group 5 5
Housing Association 1 1
Local Government 7 1 8
Private sector organisation or trade body 1 1
Total Organisations (13) (2) (15)
Individuals 12 1 13
Total 25 3 28

The majority of respondents (25 out of the 28 who answered this question) agreed with the 3 month time limit to decide on a licence renewal. However, a local government respondent, a private sector or trade body respondent and an individual respondent did not. Fifteen respondents made a further comment, although nine of these either referred back to or replicated their comments at Question 6a above.

Other issues raised by those agreeing with the 3 month time limit for renewal were that it was reasonable or appropriate. A local authority respondent who had disagreed with the 3 month time limit for application suggested that this time limit would be appropriate for renewal since the majority of renewals should involve little or no change to the information provided at application. Another local authority respondent noted that additional fit and proper person checks will have to be made on the persons and entities managing the premises and that the 3 month time limit would allow for this. However, one local authority did not consider the 3 month period to be sufficient and referred back to the reasons they had given for the period being insufficient at application (as set out at Question 6a above).

Two private sector organisation or trade body respondents, only one of whom had answered the yes/no question, suggested the 3 month time limit is too long. One went on to suggest that 2 months for first renewal and one month for subsequent renewals should be sufficient.

Question 6c: Do you agree with the proposed 3 month time limit for a local authority to decide on an application for a licence transfer?

The third part of Question 6 (recorded as Question 6c within this report) asked respondents whether they agreed with the proposed 3 month time limit for deciding on an application for a licence transfer. Responses by respondent type are set out in Table 7 below.

Table 7: Question 6c - responses by respondent type

Type of respondent Yes No Total
Community or residents' group 5 5
Housing Association 1 1
Local Government 4 3 7
Private sector organisation or trade body 1 1
Total Organisations (10) (4) (14)
Individuals 11 2 13
Total 21 6 27

The majority of respondents (21 out of the 27 who answered this question) agreed with the 3 month time limit to decide on an application for licence transfer. However, 3 local government respondents, a private sector or trade body respondent and 2 individual respondents did not. Sixteen respondents made a further comment, although eleven of these either referred back to or replicated their comments at Question 6a or b above.

Specific further comments made - all by respondents who had disagreed with the time limit - were:

  • Regulation 3 should include reference to 'such other information as the local authority may reasonably require'.
  • If there are to be new owners, the situation may be complex and many issues may need to be investigated. In particular, an individual respondent pointed to frequent changes of company address or bank details and rapid turnover of company directors. A local government respondent raising the issue of potential complexity favoured a 12 month time limit.
  • Virtually all caravan park purchases are subject to the transfer of the site licence and time will be of the essence. The private sector organisation or trade body respondent raising this issue favoured a one month time limit.

Question 7: Do you agree or disagree that when a local authority is required to give reasons for its decision it should do so on the same day it communicates its decision?

Question 7 asked respondents whether they agreed that when a local authority is required to give reasons for its decision it should do so on the same day it communicates its decision. Responses by respondent type are set out in Table 8 below.

Table 8: Question 7- responses by respondent type

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Total
Community or residents' group 5 5
Housing Association 1 1
Local Government 6 1 7
Private sector organisation or trade body 2 2
Total Organisations (14) (1) (0) (15)
Individuals 11 2 13
Total 25 3 0 28

The majority of respondents (25 out of the 28 who answered this question) agreed that when a local authority is required to give reasons for its decision it should do so on the same day it communicates its decision. However, a local government respondent and 2 individual respondents disagreed.

Sixteen respondents went on to make a further comment (12 who had agreed, 3 who had disagreed and one respondent who had not answered Question 7). Those who had agreed tended to point to this approach being reasonable, transparent and/or courteous. Other comments included that this approach would reflect the arrangements in other areas, such as planning consent and building warrants, and that the applicant will want to know the reasons for the decision in order to decide whether to lodge an appeal. It was also suggested that the provision of this information is in line with the Scottish Regulators' Strategic Code of Practice.

Comments made by those who had disagreed included that a small amount of further time could be required, with one individual respondent suggesting a week might be appropriate.


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