We’re coming towards the end of another season for your holiday home. As Autumn arrives at the end of this month and Winter is on the horizon, it may be helpful to review some of the obligations you are owed by your caravan park managers. Plus, we also review some other issues concerning your use of the static home.
Can I live permanently in my static caravan?
This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions about static homes or holiday caravans.
Typically, no. You are unlikely to be an entirely free agent and need to investigate the situation carefully because:
- the local authority licence for the caravan park may be for seasonal, recreational use only but prohibit residence the whole year round;
- the site owners may prohibit permanent residence; and
- typically, your static caravan insurance is unlikely to provide cover for its use as your main home and permanent place of residence.
Is insurance a legal requirement for static caravan ownership?
There may be no formal legal requirement for such insurance – although some form of cover may be necessary if you have a loan on the caravan.
Your site owner may also demand that you have a minimum form of insurance in place in order to make sure that third party liability cover is available on all caravans on their site.
In most cases, they do not have the right to insist that you purchase such insurance from them, so that means you can shop around for the most suitable static home insurance deal.
Can I let out my caravan during the holiday season to obtain income?
There are several aspects to this question:
- depending upon your site agreement, you may require the site owner’s permission;
- in some cases, the local authority may not have authorised the site for holiday letting use but only for that of owners;
- if you have existing static insurance, you may need to discuss your plans with your insurance provider and possibly upgrade your cover, as letting your caravan out may invalidate any existing policy if it is aimed exclusively at owner-users;
- if you have purchased your caravan using a loan, some lenders may require that you obtain their permission before letting your caravan out as a commercial activity; and
- remember that the law may oblige you to declare any income obtained as part of your tax and income affairs.
Holiday park site owners and their responsibilities in times of bad weather
With winter storms and severe weather seeming to be the ‘norm’ over the last few years, it’s not just caravan and park homeowners who feel the effects, but even people living in bricks and mortar homes – no structure is safe from extreme weather.
So, what can you do if your caravan becomes waterlogged or snowed in? Here we look at your site owner’s obligations and yours:
Duty of access and safety
- various pieces of legislation place a park site owner under a legal obligation to maintain safe and reasonable access to various areas around their site. By implication, that might mean clearing snow, mud or water from road and paths leading to caravans and site facilities etc;
- by contrast, you may have the responsibility, confirmed by the site agreement and your own static caravan insurance, to keep your pitch clear and safe;
- of course, the law cannot specify in advance every conceivable circumstance that might arise and therefore definitive answers about what is or is not reasonable can’t always be given in advance;
Discussion before escalation
- so, what happens if you have concerns about the current state of your site – if severe weather has resulted in problems accessing your site or your pitch, remember that the site owners may be trying to deal with numerous problems all at the same time;
- practically, it may be difficult or impossible for them to progress every owner’s concerns simultaneously in exceptional circumstances and they may need to prioritise. Try to understand their priorities and approach – and be patient;
- if you suspect that your patience is being abused and, in fact, they’re sitting on their hands, then speaking to them politely is always the preferable first step – sometimes inaction arises as a result of an honest oversight or misunderstanding and a friendly word is all that’s required;
- if that still results in nothing but inertia and in the meantime, you are unable to safely access your caravan, then you may need to write a formal letter or note confirming the situation;
- make clear, politely, in your letter that you believe the current position means that they are in breach of prevailing legislation demanding that safe access is provided – that might well do the trick, but if it doesn’t, you may need to take legal advice and consider further action.
How do I keep my static home condensation-free?
Condensation can become a big problem in static homes. It can occur at any time, but it is often more of a problem later in the year as the nights become cooler.
Not only can it be unpleasant, but it can also lead to problems like damp and mould. Damp can damage your interior and your furnishings, and mould spores can cause health problems, especially for people who suffer from health issues like asthma.
Although problems with condensation can be frustrating, by following a few simple tips you can reduce the likelihood of any problems occurring – keeping your static home drier and more comfortable.
Here are some tips and suggestions for keeping condensation at bay:
Make sure you ventilate properly
- the main reason condensation forms is because of a lack of ventilation;
- to prevent this, make sure you constantly air your static by opening the windows – if the weather is warm enough, you may want to leave the windows slightly open during the night, but always take security seriously and do not leave windows open when you are away from your ‘van;
Improve the insulation
- if your static home does not have good ventilation, you may be tempted to keep it warm by blocking up draughts – but this can increase the problem of condensation;
- instead, work on keeping the interior warm by investing in insulation and double-glazing windows – that way you will have less need to block draughts, and the ventilation will be improved;
Heat your caravan slowly
- how you heat your static home can also affect how much it suffers from condensation;
- it is quite common for people to arrive after being outside and turn up the heating onto a high setting to quickly warm up – this may not be the best option;
- a better idea is to keep your heating on a low and consistent heat for longer, as this will help the heat to penetrate the furniture and cupboards to keep them dry;
Use extractor fans
- extractor fans are often used in the bathroom and kitchen because these are the areas where moisture tends to build up the most – so, if you do not have fans, you may want to invest in some.;
- use your fans when you are cooking in the kitchen or using the shower in the bathroom and keep them on for a while after you have finished – you may also want to open the windows to increase the ventilation further;
Dry clothes outside
- drying clothes inside your static home can quickly add a lot of moisture to the air;
- avoid doing this as much as possible, and keep a window open if you have to dry your clothes inside;
Invest in a dehumidifier
- a dehumidifier is a simple and cost-effective way to cut down on humidity in your static home – add one or two in your caravan and you will help to reduce condensation.;
Do not block air vents
- air vents should be clear at all times, so never block them up to keep warm;
- they allow gases and moisture to leave, blocking them can be very dangerous and can cause carbon monoxide poisoning – which can be fatal;
- improve your heating situation in other ways, such as improving the insulation, but never block the air vents.
Do I need a TV licence for my static caravan?
Finally, the vexed question of whether you need a TV licence for your static caravan – the answer may be trickier than you imagined and requires a little explanation.
The key question is whether or not you will be using any television installed in your static caravan at the same time that your normal television is being used in your permanent home.
If the answer to that is no, then you may not need a separate licence for your caravan. You may be able to simply make what is called a non-simultaneous use declaration and that should cover you.
If you are likely to be using a TV in your caravan while someone at your normal place of domicile is also using the TV there, then you will need a separate licence for your caravan.