Doug (right) and other mobile home owners say changing location payments is a pain

Disgruntled mobile home owners at Margate’s Bradgate Park say they are no longer allowed to pay site fees monthly and are faced with unmanageable half-yearly or annual bills.

The site, which is open year-round but is not listed as residential, is owned by Wyldecrest Holiday Parks run by owner Alfie Best.

Wyldecrest was founded in 2001 and is one of the UK’s largest holiday park providers with 95 residential mobile home parks and seven holiday mobile home parks. He bought Bradgate in Manston Court Road, which has around 220 locations, in 2014.

But some mobile home owners on the site say they now fear ‘eviction’ as they must continue to pay monthly fees.

Doug Tivers is among those who pay monthly site fees and says the demand for one or two annual payments is a pain.

He said: “There are a lot of old people here who are very upset and in tears. Most of them have always paid monthly, but we were told that now we had to pay 6 months or the whole year. If we don’t, we are considering a 28 day eviction notice. They say they will lend money through a finance company.

“There are old ladies here in pieces, I don’t know what to say to them and I just give them a hug.”

Doug says that although the park is not listed as residential, it is open 365 days a year and many people do not leave the site, but they are not covered by any residential rights.

Doug and his wife have now received a letter saying they have £6,400 in unpaid fees, which is the amount for the year. He added that people had also received eviction notices.

“Temporary measure”

Wyldecrest owner Alfie Best, who has been widely featured in the media for talking about his gypsy roots and becoming a self-made millionaire, disputed redundancy notices were served but said it could happen.

The 52-year-old said monthly payments had always been a temporary measure and switching to semi-annual or annual payments was a necessary business decision.

He said: “Our main concern is with our holiday home owners. We don’t operate our parks to upset people, but we also need to run the business diligently.

“When we initially introduced monthly payments when we took over the park, it was only for a short period, it was supposed to last a few years, but we extended it and then extended it again.

“But we found that some people were not paying and withdrawing their caravans after 6 months, which had a detrimental effect on the business and on the park.

“It was abused, people weren’t paying, then it became a burden on the administration who had to constantly check and check the owners every month.

“We have a lot of fantastic landlords, but unfortunately some think it’s cheap accommodation. This is a holiday park not a residential park and as a company we have a duty of care. It is a criminal offense to rent holiday homes as residential accommodation.

Wyldecrest manages residential parks but Bradgate does not have this designation.

Termination of agreements

Mr Best said it was not the case that eviction notices had been served, but added: ‘It will happen, the termination of agreements, if people don’t pay their fees. We had meetings, we went through it and told everyone that this was in play.”

It is understood that between 10 and 20 holiday home owners on site have not paid the biannual or annual amount.

“Cost of Living Crisis”

Another Bradgate unit owner, who asked not to be named, said: ‘During this year’s annual location fee review, Wyldecrest informed us that they will no longer be accepting monthly payments. for our license fees: semi-annual or annual. No discussion, no negotiation to change our license agreements.

“Most of the residents are elderly, retired, disabled, etc. Wyldecrest ‘helpfully’ referred us to (a) credit finance company. In a context of crisis in the cost of living, high inflation and rising interest rates: get a loan! As if someone with a limited income could get a loan; even if you were eligible, would a bank give you one for what is effectively your rent?

“Assuming you overcome these hurdles, the monthly payments would be higher due to the extra interest, and you would be in perpetual debt because in subsequent years you would need another loan.

“Some people have started to leave, but many of us can’t. Whereas as a holiday park, we have to give a residential address, like in our case, people give a family address, and we can settle there. Renting accommodation is beyond us, especially with the need to obtain deposits, furniture, appliances, etc. Again, assuming (as with loans) we would get a rental property with our low incomes.

“The option we seem to have is to cancel our direct debits and continue to pay monthly by bank transfer or direct debit. But it is fraught with danger as we could be kicked out.

“Did All We Could”

Mr Best said monthly payment is simply no longer an option, but 6 months has been offered despite all his other parks requiring annual payments. He said: “I like what I do, I eat it with a spoon. I believe we change people’s lives and I don’t like cases like this where people are upset, but we did everything we could.

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