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Admin charges on utility costs: key legal issues

LegalRawdon Crozier, a barrister from KBG Chambers, in Plymouth, Truro and Exeter, and the Leasehold Advisory Service’s Ibraheem Dulmeer discuss a recent Court of Appeal decision on recovering administrative charges on utility costs

This decision looked at whether park home owners were liable for the site owners’ costs of providing utilities.

In Greenwood and another v P R Hardman & Partners [2017] EWCA Civ 52, the Court of Appeal considered the extent to which park home owners are liable to pay the site owners’ actual or notional costs of administering and maintaining the utilities in addition to the actual charges for such services.

It was held that the liability to make such a contribution was governed by the terms of the written statement ( as required by the Mobile Home Act 1983 (the Act) and that, as it was highly improbable that such a written statement would include provision for the recovery as “charges”, of either:


Understanding park home tribunals

legalGoing to court is often a very stressful and daunting experience. Park home owners typically seek a peaceful lifestyle with litigation the last thing anybody wants. Tim Selley, a partner at Crosse and Crosse Solicitors LLP, and Ibraheem Dulmeer, a solicitor at the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) address some of your concerns with tribunal action

The First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) or the Residential Valuation Tribunal in Wales, hear almost all park/mobile home proceedings (“Tribunal”). The County Court still deals with cases where the issue is over possession (termination of home owner agreements).


Your legal questions answered!

legalThe Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) provides a free telephone helpline for those with park home-based legal queries. LEASE solicitor Ibraheem Dulmeer and property management expert, Cassandra Zanelli, a partner at PM Legal Services, address your most frequently asked questions…

Q: Is the Retail Prices Index (RPI) used in the pitch fee review process? I understand the figure is no longer ‘official.’ What is the figure used for Wales?

A: In March 2013, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) decided the RPI figure was no longer a ‘national statistic.’ However, it still publishes the figure on a monthly basis and it is still used in the pitch fee review process in England.

For Wales, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is used to increase or decrease the pitch fee, as opposed to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) in England. Again, the official CPI figure can be found on the Office of National Statistics website. It is possible for either the site owner or the home owner to apply to a First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) or Residential Property Tribunal (Wales) in the event of a dispute.

You can find the latest figures for both RPI and CPI on the ONS website.


The pitch fee reviews explained

legalPitch fee reviews can often be a bone of contention between residents and park site owners. Cassandra Zanelli, a partner at PM Legal Services, and Ibraheem Dulmeer, a solicitor at the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) explain how you can avoid running into problems and disputes

A pitch agreement or written statement is essentially a contract that sets out a number of obligations and responsibilities between a site owner and a park home resident. The terms of this agreement state the amount of the pitch fee and when it is to be paid to the site owner. If the pitch fee includes utilities, this should be outlined clearly in the agreement.  

Is there a certain way a pitch fee review has to be undertaken?
Since 26 July 2013, the Government introduced a prescribed procedure that a site owner must follow in order to increase a pitch fee. Changes can only be made by:

1. The site owner serving a notice to inform the park home resident of the change/increase (commonly referred to as the pitch fee review notice); and
2. The site owner simultaneously serving a pitch fee review form.

The pitch fee review notice and pitch fee review form must be served together.


Supreme Court case on terminating a park home agreement

leaseFollowing an important Supreme Court judgment, Aimee Hutchinson, from Blacks Solicitors and Ibraheem Dulmeer, a solicitor at Leasehold Advisory Services, examine the possible implications for site owners and residents

The Supreme Court case of Telchadder –v- Wickland Holdings Limited [2014] provided important guidance on the steps site owners should take before issuing court proceedings against a resident to gain possession of a pitch.

The main point to be taken from this case is that a site owner should serve a notice upon a resident where there is a breach of the Written Statement and/or Pitch Agreement. That notice should, where possible, provide the resident with a reasonable time in which to remedy the breach.


How does the legislation relate to residential, holiday and mixed-use sites?

leaseWhat rights and protections do park home residents have on sites with residential, holiday and mixed-used licences under the current legislation? What responsibilities do park site owners have? Rawdon Crozier, a barrister from KBG Chambers, in Plymouth, Truro and Exeter, and the Leasehold Advisory Service’s Ibraheem Dulmeer discuss

Home owners and park owners are sometimes unclear as to whether a unit is protected under the mobile homes legislation. This protection depends on whether the site is a residential, holiday or mixed use site. We examine the differences between these types of sites and the rights of home owners.

Residential sites
The Mobile Homes Act 1983 gives a number of rights and protections to park home owners who occupy the home as their own or main residence if it is situated on a protected site. This is a site where there are no restrictions concerning the site licence or planning permission. In this situation, the home owner will have the protection of     the Act.

Holiday sites
Where the planning permission permits only holiday use or restricts occupation for a specified period - e.g. 11 months of the year - the occupiers will not be protected by the Mobile Homes Act 1983. This means that they do not have rights provided by the legislation. For example, the right for a home owner to receive a Written Statement. The site owner is still required to obtain a site licence by applying to the local authority (Section 3 of Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960).