Mobile homes residents charged 10pc commission for selling properties
- Credit: Matt Adams
Residents living in the district's four mobile homes sites could be given the opportunity to buy the freehold on their land.
A motion submitted to SADC's Full Council meeting next week calls for sweeping changes to the way the sites are managed.
The council's housing department runs four sites: Meadow Close in Bricket Wood, Park Homes in London Colney, and Drakes Drive and Woodvale Park in St Albans.
Although residents own their mobile homes, they pay annual pitch fees to SADC, plus a 10 per cent supplement for Affinity Water to supply the site.
If a mobile home is sold, SADC will also take 10 per cent of the sale price as commission, which could be up to £30,000 on homes worth £300,000.
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Since 2016, residents have paid nearly £1.186m in fees, but only £722,000 of this total has been spent on costs associated with the sites.
Of this total, around £347,000 is direct costs while £374,000 is other general administrative and overhead costs.
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The surplus of £464,000 has been allocated to SADC's General Fund, rather than specifically allocated for site improvements.
Cllr Richard Curthoys, who has proposed the motion, said: "The council is using monies taken from our most disadvantaged residents to support council services by taxing the capital assets of some of our least privileged residents who cannot afford a ‘bricks and mortar’ property.
"This means residents find it difficult to move and are ‘trapped’ in mobile homes."
He is calling for an immediate reduction in sales commission to 5 per cent, which will then be ringfenced purely for repairs and maintenance of mobile home sites, the scrapping of the water supply admin charge, and negotiations with residents to allow them to purchase the freehold of the relevant sites.
Stacey Taylor, who lives at Meadow Close, said: "I've been highlighting this for seven years and trying to get the council to look into it.
"If they were spending the money on the sites it would be one thing, but other sites have much better facilities than us."
SADC's Cllr Jacqui Taylor, chair of the council's housing and inclusion committee, said: "This is an area covered by the Mobile Homes Act (1983 - as amended) and is something looked at by the previous Conservative portfolio holder not that long ago who concluded no change but to await the outcome of a review of the Park Home Industry in autumn 2018.
"This review decided that the government will commission research to enable detailed assessment of the impacts on both residents and site owners. This detailed assessment is still awaited from the government.
"We will always look at ideas coming forward and the most appropriate course of action is for the housing and inclusion committee to examine this in detail and gives the opportunity for a report from council officers on the background, legislation, financial implications and to compare with other councils."