Campervan / Motor Home Share Factsheet
This factsheet is designed to inform and assist individuals who wish to set up a campervan sharing or fractional ownership scheme so that it operates legally, fairly and smoothly.
Many people will be familiar with the concept of sharing a vehicle of some sort, such as a car that is shared between neighbours to be used for trips around town or weekends away. More information about car and motorbike sharing can be found elsewhere on this website. A campervan can be shared in exactly the same manner as a car. There are obviously a few important differences mainly reflecting the fact that a campervan is likely to be required for longer periods at a time and therefore a more formalised booking procedure may be required.
This factsheets describes a variety of shared campervan use and fractional ownership where the sharers do not always travel together in the campervan (although they could if they chose to) but rather they book different days or weeks to use the vehicle in advance and use it separately. This is essentially an informal campervan shared ownership (fractional ownership) club.
There are a number of benefits to such a scheme, particularly the cost saving made by the sharers by sharing ownership, and the reduction in parking spaces taken up in streets and lanes by large vehicles that are not used regularly. Sharing a campervan means that a vehicle that could be a large investment for one person or family is shared with others, and thus because it is used more frequently, is a better value investments for the owners. By having fewer vehicles on the road there are fewer wasted resources, and thus a reduction in emissions from the manufacturing process involved in making campervans.
Types of Campervan Sharing:
If you are unlikely to use a campervan very often, then perhaps the best option is to hire a campervan when required. This can be good value for a one off weekend at a couple of hundred pounds, but rather expensive if you do it more regularly. It is also not as homely or flexible as having your own campervan that you just share with one or two friends. If the weather is good and you fancy staying for longer in a shared campervan all you need to do is telephone your fellow sharers to check that they are happy with that, and there’s no need to pay hefty extra fees to a hire company.
In the USA there are some organisations that will sell shares (typically 8 or 16) in an ‘RV’ (large motor home) to a number of owners, who can then share the ownership, usually referred to as fractional ownership, and use of the vehicle. However, such schemes are not yet common in the UK. The model used in the USA usually involves a management company arranging the bookings and storage of the vehicle, so that adds further expense for the owners, and the corporate structure makes it rather inflexible. If these sort of companies arrive in the UK then they will be suitable for people who want to book certain weeks (perhaps up to 5 weeks per year) in advance and leave the organisation to someone else, and who are willing to pay a premium for this.
At the other end of the spectrum many people may feel that an informal sharing club between friends, colleagues, neighbours or siblings may be appropriate for them. For people with the time and interest, there can be considerable savings to setting up your own private scheme.
Sharing and the Law:
Sharing is a concept that has been widely recognised in law for centuries, both as joint ownership of moveable assets, and as a method of owning land with other people through the legal mechanisms of joint tenancy and tenancy in common. It is also possible to write contracts which allow assets to be shared with others even if ownership is not shared. For such a contract to be enforceable it is important that all parties provide ‘consideration’ (e.g. money, time or services) and that the sharing is not simply a gift by one person to others.
Although it is advisable in many situations to have a written agreement to regulate a sharing relationship, there is nothing in law to prevent an informal arrangement being agreed verbally. However, difficulties with a verbal agreement arise when one party wants to prove the contents of the agreement and the others disagree about what was said.
Campervan sharing clubs and similar unincorporated associations have no legal identity separate from the individuals involved in running the club, unlike companies. This means that club members will jointly carry the risk of liabilities incurred by any other member of the group using the shared vehicle. Using a written legal agreement will enable the sharers to allocate most of these risks between themselves.
In the UK, it is a legal requirement that every motorised vehicle must be registered with the DVLA and licensed. A vehicle can, by law, only have one registered keeper. For shared vehicle ownership schemes, this means either that one of the sharers must be selected to be the registered keeper or that a legal body such as a limited company must be set up as the registered keeper.