‘Site owners have all the power!’: Caravan resident slams ‘rule changes’ at parks

Cork grandad forced to live in 'rat-infested' caravan

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Caravan owners in Northern Ireland are demanding their concerns are listened to in the forthcoming review of the Caravan Act, fearing they could be evicted. The act is required to be updated every five years, however this year it will be reviewed in its entirety.

Many owners are voicing their frustration about being “forced off” sites that they’ve occupied for years, due to a number of factors including their caravans being too old.

And they say that not only have site fees increased, they’re being demanded early.

One owner, Cathy Graham, has campaigned with hundreds of other owners to have their voices heard.

She believes site owners are unfairly given preferential treatment, and that the review should look at redressing that balance.

“Caravan site owners have all of the power and the law needs to change in order to provide more security and tenure to caravan owners,” she said.

“Site owners should not be allowed to decide at a whim that your licence will not be renewed, or if it has been taken over by a new owner, they should also not be able to stop your licence being renewed.

“There should have to be a good reason that is challengeable by law for anyone being put off a site, similar to the protections given to residential holiday homes in part one of the Caravan Act.

“It needs to be mandated as part of legislation that site owners have to give clear and transparent terms on their agreements and that everything should be in writing.”

The Department for Communities is the organisation responsible for conducting the review and has encouraged stakeholders to come forward with concerns.

They say they want their input in order to identify key issues ahead of the legislation.

But the owners have gone all the way to Stormont to protest the ongoing issues causing them to be “forced off” the sites.

Many say they’ve been told to buy a new more modern caravan or leave.

TUV leader Jim Allister has backed the cause, presenting a petition signed by almost 4,000 caravan owners to the Stormont Assembly.

He said: “This petition, signed by 3,768 people, represents families across Northern Ireland who have grave grievances over the manner of their treatment by some, but, I stress, not all caravan park owners.

“Among the grievances is the fact that they have no security of tenure on a caravan park.

“They get a licence from one year to the next, and, then, at the end of that year, they are vulnerable, as has happened this year in one park, to exorbitant demands for increases in pitch fees — in one case, a 35 percent increase, which is unconscionable and unacceptable.”

Communities Minister Dierdre Hargey reiterated her desire for the owners to take part in discussions, saying:

“The views of caravan owners and site owners and others in both the residential and holiday sector will help the cross-departmental working group determine what recommendations may be required to address potential concerns.

“I would therefore encourage those within the sector to take this opportunity to make your voice heard and help influence the findings of this review.”

Owners can make their concerns known via an official questionnaire until March 2022.

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