Guide to buying a holiday caravan
Buying a holiday caravan might just be the best decision you ever made. It can be your ‘happy place’, a bolt hole to which to escape to take holidays in the most beautiful parts of the country.
If you are thinking of buying a holiday caravan, here are the answers to some of the questions you may already be asking – and others you might be glad we mentioned!
- Am I looking in the right place?
- When can I use my holiday caravan?
- How can I tell if the park is right for me?
- What influences the cost of a holiday caravan?
- What’s included in the price?
- What else should I budget for?
- Will I be asked to sign a contract?
- What should I look for in the agreement?
- What happens if I decide to sell?
- Can I live in my holiday caravan?
- What happens if my circumstances change?
To get the most out of holiday caravan ownership, many people choose a park location no further than two or three hours’ drive from where they live.
It is important to check the months of the year when a park is open for you to use your holiday caravan. Some parks are open all year, but many close for two or three months in winter.
Whenever you use your caravan, you must be taking a holiday. You cannot live in it.
Visit several parks to get a feel for what’s on offer. Some may also hire holiday caravans, and you could consider a short break in order to better judge the park and surrounding area. If you wish, ask the park owner to introduce you to some existing owners for an informal chat about their experience.
Prices for a holiday caravan vary up and down the country, and like conventional properties, location is a key factor influencing the cost – together with the range of facilities offered by the park. The price will then also reflect the holiday caravan you choose.
The quoted price will almost invariably include all of the carpets, furnishings, kitchen appliances and other basic equipment. There may be options such as double glazing, upgraded central heating, decking or even a hot tub on the deck to consider. You should get it all in writing to ensure there are no surprises later.
If you are buying a new caravan – as opposed to a holiday caravan already located on the park – check if there’s extra to pay for having it transported from the factory, sited on the pitch, and “commissioned” (made ready for your holidays and connected to the utilities).
Other costs to consider will be the annual pitch fee (what you pay for the right to occupy your pitch on the park), utilities such as water, gas and electricity, plus rates and insurance for your holiday caravan. Again, you should get it all in writing to ensure there are no surprises later.
It’s in your own interests to ensure that you sign a written contract (known as a “licence agreement”) from the park. In fact, we would not advise going ahead with the purchase of a holiday caravan unless you have been provided with a written agreement – and have read, understood and are happy with its terms.
Model contract terms can be reviewed at http://www.ukparks.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/purchase-and-licence-agreement.1.2018.pdf but it is essential that you review and are satisfied with the terms offered to you at the park of your choice.
Check especially how long the agreement runs for as this will lay down how long you can keep your holiday caravan on the park. Ten years from new is the minimum required of BH&HPA member parks but the term may be longer – especially if you are buying a holiday lodge.
Also check the agreement for any park rules which might apply to you. For example, if you wish to sub-let, is this allowed? Are pets permitted on the park, and will this affect you? Will you have free use of park facilities such as a swimming pool?
Check the agreement for what will happen if you decide later to sell the holiday caravan or to move it off the park, and what the financial arrangements will be.
The agreement should specify, for example, the amount of transfer fee which may be applied to the selling price. The fee recognises the park owner’s interest in the land, and the transfer of the agreement rights to the new owner.
Most definitely, not!
You can use your holiday caravan for short breaks and longer holidays, and some retired people spend many of the summer months in their holiday caravan. But it cannot be used as your main residence.
If you lived in your holiday caravan, it would be in breach of the park’s planning and site licence, and you would have none of the protection in law provided to occupiers of residential parks.
Don’t be surprised if the park asks you for proof (at the outset and at intervals in the future) that you have a genuine permanent home address elsewhere. A “paper” address is not enough.
The park is required to ensure the holiday caravans are for holiday use only so, for example, you should not work locally and commute from your holiday caravan, nor enrol your children into local schools. You should be registered to vote at your main place of residence too.
This important holiday requirement will be included in your contract with the park and should be respected. If you broke this contract term, you would be asked to stop doing so. If you were to fail to comply, the park would be entitled to terminate the contract and to ask you to remove your holiday caravan. The planning authority might also take action against you for breach of the holiday rule.
The contract with the park does not allow your holiday caravan to be used as a main residence, even on a temporary basis.