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How mobile is a Mobile Home?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

It may seem an odd question, but if a mobile home forms part of your estate then it’s worth looking at closely, because the answer is it may not be as “mobile” as you would like.

Mobile homes are governed by their own rules about the sites they are to be on and the period in which they can be occupied. Mobile homes are governed by the Mobile Homes Act 1983 when it comes to security of tenure for their occupiers.

Section 3 of the Act provides that when someone who occupies a mobile home dies, their rights under the 1983 Act will pass to a surviving spouse or civil partner provided that they were occupying the mobile home as their only or main residence at the time of the death (s.3(3)(a)), 1983 Act). If not spouse or civil partner exists then any other family member occupying the mobile home as their only or main residence can succeed. In the absence of anyone in these categories the 1983 Act provides that the rights will pass to the person entitled to the mobile home by virtue of any will or the law of intestacy.

In the recent case of Barrs Residential & Leisure Ltd v Please Thomson & Co (Executors of the estate of Colin Hearne) [2020] UKUT 114 (LC) this specific issues has come under scrutiny.

Mr Hearne owned a mobile home on a site owned by Barrs Residential & Leisure Ltd. When he died, his Will provided that his Estate was to be divided equally between his children. None of the children lived with Mr Hearne at the date of his death.

The Executors transferred ownership of the late Mr Hearne’s mobile home by a Deed of Assignment to one of his sons on payment of £30,000 and argued that they had transferred not just the legal title but also the right of occupation.

Barrs Residential & Leisure Ltd argued that whilst the Deed could transfer the legal ownership it could not – and did not – transfer the rights under the 1983 Act.

At a hearing before HHJ Bridge, the Upper Tribunal agreed and found for the site owner. The determination of the Court was that the son was, by virtue of the Deed of Assignment, the legal owner of the mobile home but he was not the successor in terms of a right of occupation.

So – if you own a mobile home it is worth looking at how you can leave that to someone in your Will and whether you should assign the mobile home and the 1983 Act rights during your lifetime.

Proper legal advice is a must in this area to ensure that future problems are avoided.