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Top tips on buying a static caravan

In the UK, there are an estimated 365,000 caravan holiday homes, with the rise of the staycation boosting caravan holidays. It may offer a home from home holiday for you, your family and friends. Plus, you may also have paying guests too, so enjoy income which can help with the running and maintenance costs.

So, if you are buying a static caravan, what do you need to consider? Here we have put together some tips on what you need to think about, as well as answering some FAQS about holiday park caravan ownership …

Is buying a static caravan a good investment?

If you are wondering “do static caravans hold their value?” then it might be worth thinking about some of the basics of asset ownership. The vast majority of things we purchase in life will reduce in value as they age. That is a process called depreciation. The rate of depreciation will vary depending upon many factors including:

  • what it is;
  • its make/model/age/rarity;
  • how well you have maintained it;
  • where it is located.

There are some exceptions of course, including certain rare luxury vehicles, some antiques and perhaps most notably, property. Even in those cases though, their basic values might decrease as well as increase, subject to the unpredictable nature of market demand. 

Static caravans are no exception to those principles. If you consider the word investment to mean that something will be worth more when you dispose of it than it was when you acquired it, then that might not be guaranteed with a static caravan.

There are two important points to make here though:

  • a static might prove to be an excellent investment in terms of massively expanding your leisure opportunities and therefore your quality of life;
  • maintenance and TLC won’t, in itself, remove depreciation on the caravan but it might slow it down – slightly. Not everyone agrees with that but it seems intuitive that a well-maintained static in good order is likely to command a higher price than one in poor condition.

 How long will a static caravan last?

Once again, there is no hard-and-fast answer to this question. Many sites and associations quote very different figures ranging from 10-15 up to 20-25 years.

Much will depend upon the age and condition of the static when you purchased it, whether it is a quality build and how seriously you take the need for regular maintenance.

Note that irrespective of condition, some sites may have specific clauses limiting the maximum age of caravans to 10, 15 or 20 years. Once your static passes that age, the site owners may have a legal right to ask you to remove it, even if many do not exercise that.

Choosing the most suitable location and holiday park for you – what do you need to consider?

  • location – 1. Unless you plan to use your caravan perhaps only once or twice each year, you may wish to make sure that the caravan holiday park is within sensible commuting distance of your permanent home. That might mean you will be able to use it more easily for weekend breaks etc.;
  • location – 2. When choosing a holiday park location, remember that your site may affect a number of things including the cost of your static caravan insurance. Sites known for flooding or which have security issues may result in you needing to spend more on your annual caravan insurance policy;
  • facilities. Some holiday parks may be very rural, have few if any onsite facilities and, be a long way from things such as shops. If you like rural isolation that may be fine but not if you like having a shop or a pub (etc.) within just a few minutes of where you are staying;
  • budget. Remember it’s not just the price of buying static caravans for sale. After you have completed the purchase (and allowed for legal fees etc), you need to ensure you have enough money going forward. Maintaining a caravan costs money, just as maintaining and running a house does. As a result, choose a static that is safely within your budget and which will leave you with some money left over to cope with maintenance, any site fees and odd emergencies, plus allow for caravan insurance too;
  • check the reason why is the static caravan for sale. Being realistic, no potential vendor is likely to honestly share with you that they are trying to sell because (e.g.) the site and area are unpleasant! Even so, pushing people a little on this and getting into a discussion with them, may result in you spotting a few warning signs that suggest their reasons for the sale may be ones that you yourself might find to be issues in due course;
  • look closely at the condition. A lot of this is common sense but if you are not familiar with statics, it might be advisable to take someone with you who is. Get them to check things such as the underneath, couplings and for signs of significant corrosion around the vehicle;
  • walk and drive extensively around the area of the holiday park site. For example, an animal silage farm a mile or two down the road might prove to be a significant issue for you at the height of summer when the wind is blowing in a certain direction! These are things you’ll want to discover in advance rather than afterwards;
  • note the condition of your neighbours’ caravans. The one you are looking at might be in pristine condition but if others around are shabby and slightly run-down, it may tell you something about the nature of the holiday site and your probable outcomes for the future sale of the caravan if and when you need to;
  • what are the holiday park pitch fees?

Do I have to take the site owners’ static caravan insurance?

In almost all cases, no. You are typically under no such obligation to take their static caravans cover.

The site owners may have a right to:

  • require you to hold appropriate third-party liability cover insurance. This is part of their duty of care obligations to other site users. However, this is not the same thing as saying you must use their cover if you can find more suitable and cost-efficient cover of your own from another source;
  • inspect your own insurance cover to check it is active and appropriate. They may ask to take a copy of your certificate and making a very modest administrative charge for doing so might not be unreasonable.

There are a few very rare and unusual situations, linked to land ownership and deeds, where the owners might have a right to require you to take their insurance. These circumstances are uncommon and if you’re in any doubt, you should take advice.

Who can stay in my static caravan?

In theory, anyone you choose but there may be some limitations in terms of your site agreement. Some may ban or restrict:

  • single-sex groups under a certain age (without older supervision);
  • overnight stays by groups where the numbers exceed the caravan’s stated maximum berth capacity;
  • the use of the caravan for commercial letting purposes (i.e. paying guests);
  • people with pets.

In some cases, you might also see limitations specified by your static caravan insurance policy. They might cover things such as letting or people bringing exotic or non-domesticated pets inside.

Read your holiday parks site agreement and static caravan insurance policy to see any applicable clauses.

Can static caravans be moved?

Technically, yes, as they had to be moved originally to get them on site.

Usually moving your caravan is a process involving a large trailer though some can be towed for limited distances if, for example, you’re changing your pitch on the same site.

By definition though, they are meant to be static. Always discuss a planned move with your insurance provider well in advance.

Can I live full time in my caravan on-site?

That depends upon two things;

  • is your site and the site’s owner licensed by the local authorities for permanent year-round occupation? Most will not be and therefore you would be forbidden from doing so by local authority regulations;
  • irrespective of the local council’s inclinations, some site owners are not interested in offering that sort of occupancy. It may involve them in considerable extra costs for the provision of services – even if the local authorities might permit it.

Generally speaking, the answer is likely to be no – though there are some sites where that might be permissible.

Do you pay council tax if you live in a static caravan?

Static caravans on holiday sites are typically not designed for permanent, all-year-round occupation, so typically, you will not be liable to pay council tax.

If you live in a park home, however – which is NOT on a holiday park but a residential park home site – you will be liable to pay council tax, as it is your permanent place of residence.

How can I tell before purchase whether or not a static has serious rust problems?

Some visible rust isn’t necessarily a sign of a pending catastrophe. Assuming it hasn’t deeply penetrated, it can be cleaned off and painted over in most situations.

If you see freshly painted areas of metal, it might or might not indicate potential problems. The trouble is, you don’t know if any rust underneath was eliminated correctly beforehand or whether it was just sprayed over for cosmetic effect.

The same applies to rust underneath, though that is always harder to access and treat.

Rusty holes, cracks and splits are a bad sign, as is flaking metal.

The best advice is that if you don’t know how to tell the difference between surface and serious rust, you should get a full inspection of the static from someone that can.

Will I need a separate TV Licence for my holiday parks caravan?

Possibly.

If your normal TV at home will be unused while you’re in your caravan, then you will not require a separate licence. However, if someone is using it while you’re using another TV in your static then you will need a separate licence.

Note – that applies even if your caravan is using satellite TV.

Will the static caravan I’m considering own the land it stands on?

That would be most unlikely.

Typically, the site owners will own the land and you will essentially rent a piece of it by way of a pitch, upon which your static will stand.

What right of redress do I have after purchase?

The law here is complex but in most areas, the principles of caveat emptor (buyer beware) apply. They’re slightly different if the static is new as opposed to second-hand.

For second-hand caravans, the seller and site owners must not materially misrepresent either the caravan or the conditions it occupies the land under. If, for example, after purchase, you discovered that the caravan had been misrepresented and was 5 years older than stated, then that might be fraud and you would have strong legal rights.

By contrast, discovering that the caravan holiday home is much draughtier than you had been led to believe and therefore cost more to heat or that you hadn’t spotted major underside rust, might be conditions that would result in you having zero rights.

You must look to protect yourself during the static caravan sales and purchase process and use appropriate experts to help. In particular, if you’re told something important as part of the sales pitch, such as there being no underside rust, then make sure you get it in writing.

Further reading: Utilising the Sale of Goods Act at Static Holiday Caravan Parks.

Can I do what I like to enhance my holiday caravan after buying it?

Broadly speaking, yes, where this involves internal modifications such as configuration changes or the installation of new equipment etc.

Remember to notify your caravan insurance provider though if such changes are anything other than cosmetic. For example, the value of your static might have been increased by them and so you may need to change the sum insured.

In terms of externals, the position may be slightly more complicated and involve some discussion with the holiday site owners. For example, adding a new extension which meant a more restricted view for a neighbour or overflowing your existing pitch, might require their permission etc.

Generally; common sense applies.

How would you summarise the key points of buying a static caravan?

They would differ depending upon your exact circumstances but generally:

  • think carefully about your objectives and be sure you understand the type of location that will deliver upon those;
  • make the holiday parks location your top priority. It’s easier to compromise on your static than its location;
  • be cautious about riverside or coastal locations – be sure to check the flood risks;
  • ensure your finances are clear in advance and reserve some disposable cash for coping with unexpected post-purchase expenses;
  • don’t be swayed by visual impressions – get an expert to conduct a nuts-and-bolts advance inspection;
  • don’t think of your holiday static as a financial investment – it will be unlikely to be such. It will, however typically bring you and your family many hours’ of joy and relaxation.

Further reading: Guide to buying a static home.