Some Holiday homes are being occupied as permanent homes without planning permission.
East Devon has seen another bumper year for tourism, but there is concern that tourist accommodation in the district is increasingly being sold off to those who want to live permanently in the area.
Much of the holiday accommodation in the district is made up of static caravans and lodges, within holiday parks in the countryside. Often sites have planning permission subject to the restriction they can only be occupied as holiday accommodation. East Devon District Council is concerned some units are being sold to purchasers who believe that they can live in them all year round, because this is not correct.
Where conditions of the planning approval are not being met, the council has to take enforcement action to ensure that units are retained for holiday purposes. This supports our important tourist industry. Holiday homes are often remote from services and facilities needed for permanent occupation. This means they are in areas where permanent consent is not likely to be granted.
In response, many residents claim that they have been mis-sold their homes. Owners may have spent their savings in the belief that they have found a dream retirement home. Some report being told by sales people that there are no restrictions on occupation, or that such restrictions will not be enforced. Most holiday accommodation like this in the district will have restricted occupation permission. The council is likely to enforce this restriction. One group of residents has recently been served enforcement notices. This gives 12 months to vacate holiday lodges where they are currently permanently living. The council would not like to make anyone homeless. It hopes that residents will be able to make alternative arrangements or pursue a possible appeal against the council decision.
A resident, who believes they have been mis-sold their home, could have have grounds for private legal action against site owners or investigation by trading standards.
Anyone thinking of purchasing any kind of park home, lodge or static caravan in East Devon would be prudent to check any restrictions included in planning permission and be happy to comply with them, before buying the property. Legal advice from a solicitor with experience of such issues will help you to be confident before you buy.
Cllr Philip Skinner, East Devon District Council’s Economy Portfolio Holder,
“The tourist industry is a vital component of the economy of East Devon and it relies heavily on us having a good supply of quality accommodation for tourists to stay. We cannot afford to lose holiday accommodation. Neither do we want to be in the position of having to rehouse people who have been mis-sold such properties. It is incumbent on all holiday park owners when selling units to be clear to purchasers about the occupation restrictions that exist and for purchasers to ensure that they are aware of them and to comply with them.”