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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit administration  →  Thread

Living in a campervan, housing costs for UC purposes

EKS_COTTON
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Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

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Hi all,

I wonder whether we are going to see more and more people living in camper/vans as a result of continuing austerity.

A long suffering UC claiming client of mine is going to live in a campervan as opposed to rent/lodge.  They do not expect UC to cover any of their housing costs.

I have checked the position - there is the initial issue of rent on a commercial basis (not satisfied) but site rent for caravan or mobile home is permissible (sch 1 para 2 UC regs).

But not possible on the latter in this case because a campervan is not technically a caravan or mobile home (as in the semi- permanent structures you see in holiday parks and the like)?  There are no stat definitions as far as I can see in the regs.

So essentially I am asking - could you get site rent as housing cost for UC purposes if using a campervan?

Is there anything else I am missing?

Thanking you in advance for input.

 

Gareth Morgan
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CEO, Ferret, Cardiff

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The equivalent of pitch fees for tents.

Dan Manville
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Greater Manchester Law Centre

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For planning purposes there is equivalence between caravans and campervans. You might be able to draw something from AB v Camden; the boat licence case if it got sticky, that had a very planning/ land law basis.

EKS_COTTON
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Many thanks all.

I am checking with the client as the costs of site rent are potentially higher than her current monthly rent.

Does anyone know whether a cap applies?  Is it a private market rent? Does it fall under LHA?

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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Gareth Morgan - 04 March 2024 02:59 PM

The equivalent of pitch fees for tents.

I must admit, I find the Schedule very confusing. It does say in para. 2 that:

Rent payments
2.  “Rent payments” are such of the following as are not excluded by paragraph 3—

(d)in relation to accommodation which is a caravan or mobile home, payments in respect of the site on which the accommodation stands;

But para.3 also states that these are excluded from being rent payments -

Payments excluded from being rent payments
3.  The following are excluded from being “rent payments”—

(a)payments of ground rent;
(b)payments in respect of a tent or the site on which a tent stands;

The payments for the site on which a caravan stands seem to be included and then excluded and I can’t see there is any obvious difference between the two things. This factsheet from Dept of Levelling UP etc on park homes seems to confirm my confusion:

The site owner will charge you a fee for allowing you to keep your home on the pitch. This is called the pitch fee. Paying this fee will usually be a term of the agreement under which you can use the pitch. The owner can only change the amount they charge in line with the rules in the Mobile Homes Act 1983. Those rules must, by law, be included as ‘implied’ terms in that agreement. For more information, see the fact sheet ‘Understanding the Mobile Homes Act 1983 – your rights and responsibilities’.

You must pay the pitch fee, which is sometimes called rent or ground rent

HB Anorak
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“Ground rent” is a term of art when it appears without a bespoke definition.  It means the rent payable under a tenancy for more than 21 years, i.e. a long leaseholder’s ground rent.  It does not refer to the charge for keeping a mobile structure on a caravan site.

I think there quite a strong analogy to be drawn with CH/318/2005 where the claimant lived on a boat which was usually kept in a leisure marina, but had to sail off every now and then to comply with licence conditions. The boat was the claimant’s dwelling even though it was not permanently situated in one place.  The marina fees were eligible for HB on any days when they were payable.

There was a separate issue about which local authority the dwelling was situated in, but that doesn’t arise when DWP is administering the claim.

I would say the claimant is entitled to a private renter’s housing element, limited to the appropriate LHA rate.

Dan Manville
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HB Anorak - 02 April 2024 01:04 PM

I think there quite a strong analogy to be drawn with CH/318/2005 where the claimant lived on a boat which was usually kept in a leisure marina, but had to sail off every now and then to comply with licence conditions. The boat was the claimant’s dwelling even though it was not permanently situated in one place.  The marina fees were eligible for HB on any days when they were payable.

 

I’ve always read the Stratford case to be a continual cruiser. It’s the only way he could have been in breach of his boat licence; you either Bona Fide Navigate or keep a mooring. S17 BWA ‘95. The only other licence conditions are insurance and a boat safety certificate.