People living in a mobile home park in north Swindon, some of them elderly and vulnerable, fear they may be forced out of their homes by the new owners of the site.
Nine residents out of 39 at Kingsdown mobile home park have received letters demanding work on their homes, sometimes costing tens of thousands of pounds, or they could face eviction.
The letters follow surveys of the site and the mobile homes carried out on behalf of the new owner of the site Oaklands Property Developments, run by Shaun Gorman.
The Advertiser has seen a copy of one of the letters from the firm’s solicitor John Clement at IBB Law. It says the company had surveys carried out because of concerns about the state of the homes.
It claims the homeowner is in breach of the agreement he has with the previous owner of the park which carried “an obligation to maintain the park home in a sound state of repair (including keeping the home capable of being moved if necessary) at all times.”
The letter encloses a list of necessary improvements and adds: “Our client requires you to remedy the said breaches by confirming in writing by 5.30pm on 10 February 2021 that you will appoint a suitable contractor.. and having the repairs completed to a satisfactory standard by not later than 19 May.”
Residents are upset and fearful. Several spoke up but wanted to remain anonymous. One said: “I’m not sleeping, I’m not eating. You do to bed thinking about it, and I’m worried I’m going to be made homeless. I moved here nearly 20 years ago and intended to retire here.
“I’ve got a long list of repairs I’ve been told to do and it’s going to cost me £40,000.”
The resident who is in his 70s said he has never had any formal agreement with the previous owner of the park, simply a rent book, and doesn’t know how he can be in breach.
Another said: “It’s awful, I’m frightened I’m going to end up on the street.”
It is understood one resident has agreed to accept £1,000 to vacate his property, which was in poor condition.
Labour councillor for Penhill and Upper Stratton Clair Crilly said: “Although the new owner maybe within their rights to have the site surveyed and this is necessary to complete the transfer of the licence, the timing of the surveys over the Christmas period and the timescale over which the work needs to be completed seem hard-hearted during the coronavirus pandemic. Many people are struggling financially at the moment and finding the contractors to complete the work across the park in the time allowed may be very challenging.
“I hope Oaklands Property Developments Ltd will reconsider the action that they are taking during this time of national challenge and to take a more reasonable approach in their dealings with the residents.”
Mr Gorman told the Adver to contact his solicitor. Mr Clement said he was not at liberty to speak to anyone about it except residents and their legal representatives. He suggested the residents should get their own legal advice.
Swindon Borough Council confirmed Mr Gorman is going through the process of having the licence to manage the site transferred to him, and that it has not been completed.
The normal arrangement for mobile home park residents is that they own the caravans but pay ground rent to the park owner. It is not common for the van owners to move them from site to site, rather selling them in situ when they want to move.