Dozens take legal action over holiday homes

Caravans at Marlie Holiday Park in New Romney, Kent Image copyright Mark Chivers
Image caption Caravans at Marlie Holiday Park in New Romney, Kent

Dozens of holiday home owners are taking legal action claiming they were mis-sold their static caravans as permanent homes, a lawyer says.

Jane Sanders said holiday home owners were not told they would not be able to live permanently on the holiday parks.

Park Holidays UK said staff were reminded to make sure customers did not intend to live in their homes.

Owners also claim they have lost thousands of pounds when selling their properties.

In November 2018, BBC South East filmed undercover at Marlie Holiday Park in New Romney, Kent, where a member of staff suggested to a potential "buyer" that caravans could be permanent homes - which would have been in breach of its own licence.

Folkestone and Hythe District Council's licence stipulates caravans cannot be "a person's sole or main place of residence" and gives the authority the right to carry out spot checks to ensure people are not living there permanently.

Park Holidays said customers were told they could spend up to 50 weeks on the site.

Those buying a holiday home and pitch on the site said they were not made aware of this rule and are bringing a civil action against the park's owners.

Image caption George Smith says he sold his home after his wife died to buy his holiday home

George Smith, 71, who owns a home at Marlie Holiday Park, and is one of the customers bringing legal action, said he sold his home to buy a holiday home at the park.

He said he bought his home for £59,000 in 2015 but was told by staff he would get £17,200 if he sold it back to the holiday park.

"I feel trapped here.

"I bought this holiday home solely to live in and I sold a house especially to buy this, but only to find out I cannot legally live in it."

'It's not a home'

Ms Sanders said: "The caravans are sold as if they are dream homes.

"There is misleading information given to the consumer at the point of sale. The consumer is buying on the basis it could be a home and that's mis-selling.

"They have to be told what they're getting into. The problem is it's not a home."

A spokesman for Park Holidays, which owns Marlie Holiday Park, as well as others in Kent and Sussex, said staff were told to ensure customers did not intend to use their holiday homes for residential purposes.

"There is a rigorous process in place to ensure the proper usage of a holiday home is fully understood by all purchasers," he said.

He added that new holiday homes were sold with a 30-year licence to remain on the park, and the home and pitch could be sold privately.

"There is no obligation to sell the holiday home back to the company," he said.

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