Subaru Holiday Home RIP OFF

Sue Binskin

New Member
Aug 16, 2020
The Right Hon. the Lord Harris,

National Trading Standards,

1 Sylvan Court, Sylvan Way,

Southfields Business Park,


Essex SS15 6TH

Holiday Home and Holiday Park Industry Complaint

Dear Lord Harris

I write to you on behalf of the 12,000 members of our Facebook Action Group with regards to the systemic Misleading and Unfair Trading Practices within the Holiday Home and Holiday Park Industry, and the failures of Trading Standards Services, on a National and Local level, to effectively carry out their regulated responsibilities as investigating and prosecuting authorities.

The Covid –19 Pandemic has highlighted many issues for consumers, particularly in relation to this business sector, regarding the failure to observe consumer rights legislation relating to partial refunds for pitch fees, paid for in advance of the pandemic.

We recently wrote to Lord Tyrie, Chair of the Competitions and Markets Authority, with regards to the many anti competitive practices, which are also endemic within the industry and which damage choice, confidence and risk substantial losses for consumers.

The 2005 examination of business, by the Office of Fair Trading and the trades associations, National Caravan Council (NCC) and British Holiday & Holiday Park Association (BH&HPA), resulted in the OFT (734) Guidance on unfair terms in holiday caravan agreements. That guidance has not had the desired impact of improving consumer protection. On the contrary, the evidence from many 1,000’s of holiday home owners, point to a significant reduction in consumer protection as a direct result of the imbalance of power created in the terms of site licence agreements.

The withdrawal of that guidance and subsequent enactment of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 has removed the focus from the specific issues associated with this unique industry.

The NCC and BH&HPA recommend models of agreements to their company members and it is clear that the terms are written first and foremost to protect the interest of their members and in many cases are ‘Unfair Terms’ for the purposes of consumer legislation. They create a significant imbalance of power between business and consumer, and as a result enable businesses to use their sole discretion on the interpretation and application of the terms. They often include terms that confuse consumers and frustrate competition for services and allow for variations which breach legislation.

There is now disturbing evidence emerging of companies including terms in the agreements, which deny consumers the right to comment on social media regarding their experience and other aspects of ownership of holiday homes. This is not conducive with an open and competitive market and denies the fundamental rights of consumers to a freedom of speech or to seek advice on how to deal with consumer issues.

Our members have provided a large quantity of evidence that demonstrates wide scale abuses by companies, large and small, which is so similar in modus operandi, it is clear there are wide spread criminal practices as part of the ‘industry standard’ for business.

The failure of Trading Standards to effectively act on a national level and in a coordinated manner, over many years, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence of wrongdoing, has now culminated in many hundreds of retired consumers on the verge of losing their homes.

The requirement for citizens to remain at their main residence during the ‘lockdown’ under the terms of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 has highlighted that many consumers have been fraudulently sold holiday homes on the basis that they were residential and could be used as their main residence.

This should not come as a surprise to yourself or Trading Standards Services as MP Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent) (Con) opened a parliamentary debate on the very subject on 27th February 2019. Both a video and transcript of the debate can be found on the following links.

Video of Debate

Transcript of Debate

The Kent Online news article 6th August 2020 shows the reality of the failure of Trading Standards, nationally, to tackle the abuses of this industry, as many retired consumers now face the very real prospect of losing their homes and everything they have spent a life time working for.

Kent Online Article

Holiday Homes cost many tens of thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds and as such consumers would need to access the High Courts to challenge simple consumer protection breaches. The risk to consumers is far greater than for any other consumer purchase or service yet the vast majority cannot access even a basic level of consumer protection.

The fact that our Group is having to ‘crowd fund’ to pursue two such cases through the High Court, with a third case being privately funded, is clearly evidence of a failure of TSS in its duties of enforcement. These cases are ordinary, run of the mill, consumer complaints, but the value of the goods is such they cannot be pursued through the ‘small claims courts’, as with the majority of other consumer complaints.

Anecdotally from the many hundreds of comments from our group members it would appear that TSS response is often, “Whilst you have a very strong case, we simply do not have the resources to pursue such a complaint.”

The evidence overwhelmingly shows serious and persistent offences committed in terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Fraud Act 2006. Yet it is left for individual consumers to fund and pursue complaints, which clearly should be the responsibility of the regulated prosecuting authorities.

In response to our 12,000-signature petition the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government stated,

“The Government is aware that holiday caravans and lodges are sometimes mis-sold to consumers as permanent residential homes. Purchasers in such cases are not provided the correct information about the caravan/lodge or the site’s planning permission. In other instances, consumers are not provided with written agreements which clearly set out the terms and conditions for occupying a pitch on the holiday site, selling a caravan or terminating an agreement. In other examples, aggressive sales methods are used to coerce consumers into making a purchase.

The Government is aware of the impacts such actions can have on consumers and that is why it brought together comprehensive provisions for consumers in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to supplement other consumer protection regulations.

The Government will continue to explore with all stakeholders how messages about rights and responsibilities in the sector can be communicated more effectively and how to ensure existing protections are effectively enforced.”

Transcript of Govt Response

Our 12,000 group members are a significant number of stakeholders and we request coordinated action from National Trading Standards and Local Trading Standards to ensure existing protections are effectively enforced.

The National Trading Standards Annual Business plan 2020 –2021 has identified 4 Strategic Objectives and we ask that Holiday Homes, given the evidence of the use a residential and the value, are considered as property for the purposes of Objective 4.

Objective 4 To deliver a programme of national enforcement, advice and support for local authorities in relation to the property market, in particular the activities of Estate and Letting Agents

We also suggest that there is significant evidence of Industry wide misleading and unfair trading practices, on such a scale, that companies now consider many breaches of legislation as the ‘norm’ for business practice. As such this should be considered as one of the 10 key priorities for 2020-2021 Fair Trading – Misleading Practices.

We would ask that your investigators join our Facebook Group, albeit anonymously, and observe for themselves the many harrowing stories of consumer exploitation, and then to make contact with us.

Park Holidays and Other Parks Unhappy Caravan Owners/Users Action Group

We provide evidence to support our claims and will work with NTS and the Industry for the benefit of both consumers and business.

We simply ask for the protections afforded to all consumers to be accessible for those consumers purchasing and owning Holiday Homes.

Yours Sincerely

Carole Keeble

Consumer Rights FB Group Admin