More residents than ever before are using CCTV on their park homes. In most cases, this is for crime prevention purposes; however, this can cause disputes to arise as neighbours are concerned about their privacy. Inevitably, it is the park operator who gets drawn into these disputes. We’ve seen an increase in enquiries over the past few months and highlight what you need to consider, should a dispute arise.
The Legal Position
Under the standard Express Terms of the Written Statement under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (as amended) it can be said that a CCTV camera is a structure and as such a resident is not entitled without the permission of the park operator to erect the same (with such consent not to be unreasonably withheld in newer versions of the written statement). Therefore, the resident should obtain permission before erecting CCTV. Arguments a park operator may advance against the erection of CCTV include that it gives the wrong impression to visitors and residents on the park, it can alarm neighbouring residents who may feel they are being ‘watched’ and that if one resident is allowed to erect CCTV then it will be difficult to stop others from doing the same.
There maybe concern that CCTV is being used in a harassing way or that its use amounts to anti-social behaviour, perhaps because it is being pointed at a neighbouring pitch in order to cause aggravation: such behaviour may amount to a criminal offence and as such should be reported to the police and may also be in breach of the terms of a Mobile Homes Act agreement not to cause a nuisance or annoyance or not to commit a criminal offence.
Quite separate to the terms of the Mobile Homes Act agreement, under Data Protection Law, those who operate CCTV are required to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) unless an exemption applies. One exemption is where CCTV is used on someone’s private residence; however, this exemption ceases to apply if the CCTV captures images of a neighbouring property or a communal area, even if it only partially captures an area outside their pitch. Therefore, if an occupant has CCTV that is capturing images outside of their pitch they will be required to register with the ICO and failure to do so amounts to a criminal offence.
Amending Site Rules
Many parks’ site rules are silent on the erection of CCTV on their pitch. It may be sensible for park operators to take steps to amend their site rules so as to make it clear that CCTV is not to be erected. Park operators seeking to introduce such a rule will need to make sure that they comply with the strict legal requirements for amending site rules under the Mobile Homes (Site Rules) (England) Regulations 2014. It should also not be forgotten that a new site rule does not have retrospective effect. Site rules form part of the terms of the Mobile Homes Act agreement. Park operators may consider, if appropriate to do so, serving a notice for failure to comply with the Mobile Homes Act agreement on a resident who is in breach of site rules and/or for causing a nuisance or annoyance. This should be viewed as a last resort where informal steps have failed to resolve the situation.
Involving the police
Alternatively, park operators who wish to stay back from a potential neighbour dispute may suggest that the aggrieved resident(s) contact the police about their concerns that the CCTV may be being misused.