In 2019 we purchased a static caravan on a Haven site privately and we made some mistakes that almost prohibited us from buying or staying in it. So if you’re looking to buy a static caravan on a Haven Site, and you’re buying privately or directly from the owner, here’s what you need to do.
Why Did You Buy A Static Caravan?
In 2018 we stayed in a luxury static van in Northumberland and we fell in love with van life. Well, ok, it isn’t exactly ‘van life‘ because you can’t move it anywhere but there was something really great about that tiny home on blocks and we started to look for our own. In hindsight, I think I fell in love with the simplicity of van life, the small, uncluttered space and the ease of keeping it clean and organised.
There’s this preconception that static vans are just for older people, but that’s definitely not true. We’ve stayed on five static sites now and each has attracted a wide age range of people from birth until their 90’s.
Buying Privately vs Buying Through Haven
If you purchase a van directly through Haven’s sale office, the base price seems to be about £23k for a 10-year-old caravan. We thought this was expensive and seeing as vans don’t retain any value (they depreciate extremely quickly) we bought one privately (directly from the owner) for a fraction of the cost.
We paid £2,000 in cash for ours, in a cafe in Leicester, and this is where it started to go wrong. Although we’d confirmed with Haven that they didn’t have an age restriction for vans on their sites we didn’t verify the selling process. We just thought it was a private sale and that we should deal individually with the seller.
Alas no, this is not the correct way to do it. Read on if you want to know what to do and how to buy a static caravan on a Haven site directly from an owner.
So What Is The Correct Buying Procedure?
The entire buying procedure MUST be curated through Haven. This is specifically to protect the buyer and to ensure that no debt is left on the van that the buyer would be responsible for.
Any price you agree with the seller must be paid directly to Haven whilst adding the site fees, council fees, water fees and insurance – which amounted to about £7k for us. Once you’ve paid Haven, they deduct their 15% commission and return the remainder to the seller.
Now the cynics amongst us would say that this is only benefitting Haven and I would partially agree however if there is any debt maintained on the van site, the buyer will be held responsible for it. This means that if the site fees have not been paid (for the period the seller spent on site), the buyer must pay them and any other debts that are owed. This could be for maintenance or services provided.
So I reiterate, the sale MUST be completed through Haven in their offices and you must sign all the contracts and pay Haven directly.
What Do You Need To Do To Complete The Sale?
Here’s what you need to do if you want to purchase a van privately that’s on a Haven site.
- Make an appointment with the sales team on site.
- The buyer should attend the site where the van is located with proof of ID and proof of address.
- The seller must be present at the same time to sign over the van.
- Pay for the price of the van directly to Haven.
- Pay the site fees, council fees, insurance and water fees.
- Sign the new purchase agreement and the site agreement.
- Collect the keys.
- Register at the site for your privilege cards (these give you a discount on all shops, restaurants and activities on the site).
What Should You Be Careful Of?
If your buyer says to you “No, it’s my van I’m selling it privately, I’m not going through Haven“, be aware that they might be trying to conceal something.
This is what happened to us and it transpired the previous owner had a large debt that she was trying to walk away from. That would have been transferred to us and we would have been entirely responsible for her not having paid 6 months of site fees or bills.
How Much Are The Site Fees?
It really depends on the site however fees start at roughly £4,000 and can raise to £7,000 for the year and Haven runs its year from March to the end of November.
The council fees are dependent on the council however our fees were roughly £250 per year. The water and sewage fees were £402 per year and the insurance £90 per year but this does not cover the contents of the van.
What Do The Site Fees Cover?
- Grounds Maintenance
- On-site restaurants, cafes, heated pools
- Owners lounge
- Owners pool
- Owners gym
- Owners Spa
- 15% off food/drink sold on-site
- 50% off kids’ activities
- Trash collection
Can You Live On-Site With Haven?
No; you’re allowed to spend up to 60 days on-site before you must take a night’s break, although nobody actually checked with us and there’s no way to really verify how many days you spend on the site..
Most Haven sites close (for owners) on December 1st and remain closed until March 1st, although during that period you’re allowed on-site during the day, you cannot spend the night. This is the period of time when you’re supposed to complete the necessary renovations on your van.
What Am I Allowed To Do To The Interior Of My Van?
Haven doesn’t have an age limit on vans but all vans face a yearly inspection. Your van must look good & be externally clean and must pass a yearly gas inspection too. The electricity will be inspected every three years and you pay for these services.
Aside from that, you can do pretty much what you want to the interior – as we did. We ripped everything out of our van and replaced everything; carpets; kitchen; bathroom; walls and furniture.
What About The Exterior Of The Van?
There are many rules about what you can do to the exterior of the van and the small pitch of land next to it.
- You must request permission to build a veranda however so long as you suggest using other van’s veranda’s blueprint, there’s no reason why you can’t have one.
- You may not erect a washing line of any sorts
- You must not keep anything under the van
- You must not keep anything outside the van or the area messy
There are a lot of rules and it can feel a little dictatorial but all of these rules are outlined in your welcome pack.
Can I have Post Delivered To My Van?
No. You can receive deliveries like white goods and sofas but no post.
Are Haven Sites Busy?
Our site was very large and as a result, the holidays and weekends were busy however the owner’s section where our van was located was not noisy and the owner’s pool, gym & lounge were also quite quiet.
Generally, Haven sites are popular though and if you’re buying a van you should aim to stay on the site beforehand.
Can I Rent My Haven Van?
There are two ways of renting out your van on a Haven site. 1) If your van is less than 10 years old Haven will rent it out on your behalf, 2) If your van is older you will be responsible for advertising on a rental site and being in charge of rentals.
Luxury vans on Haven sites tend to rent for between £500-1000 per week depending on the season and the site. We estimated that if we rented ours privately for approximately 10 weeks per year, we could cover the annual site fees. You’ll need to take into account though the number of caravans on site that rent out privately and whether yours would be able to attract business.
Our Top Tips On How To Buy A Static Caravan On A Haven Site
- Always inspect the caravan beforehand. Many suffer from rust and damp problems and you should try to inspect under the van.
- Ask to see all of the safety certificates. Our van failed its gas tests on three appliances which meant we had to replace every appliance.
- Request a list of works that have been carried out on the van.
- Do some research on online forums as to the type of owners in your park. Each park differs and some have a reputation for cliques.
- Search the internet for rental reviews of the park and see what problems renters have found.
- If you can, I’d recommend renting a van on the site before buying.
Can I Buy A Static Caravan On Haven And Move Sites?
This is a little more complex because technically moving the van is a simple process and it doesn’t cost that much (we were quoted less than £200 for lifting it off the pitch) however most sites won’t allow a van that is over or nearly 10 years old onto its site. We tried to move our van and were unable to as no other site would accept it.
Alternatively, you also cannot purchase an old van off eBay and move it to a Haven site if it is older than 5 years old. It is much easier to buy a van already in a park than not. You should always aim to buy a van that is already on a site otherwise finding a site that will accept a secondhand van is a nightmare.
How Can You Find A Secondhand Van On A Site?
- See a range of vans onsite on eBay
- Facebook Marketplace
Stay In A Static Caravan First
Before you buy one of these vans, you should definitely stay in one. We’ve saved 45 vans around the UK for you to look at.
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