The amount of money park home residents pay for gas, electricity and water is sometimes something of a thorny issue. KBG Chambers’ Rawdon Crozier and Ibraheem Dulmeer, a solicitor from the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), explore some of the most common problems and outline exactly what you need to know
Utility charges for gas, water or electricity can sometimes become a source of disagreement between residential occupiers of park homes and site owners. Questions can arise as to whether they can be charged as a separate item over and above the pitch fee. Or whether any charge can be made for the costs of administering the supply of utilities?
In the event of a dispute, or any uncertainty, the first port of call should be your written agreement, or written statement. You should check whether the agreement refers to a separate charge for utilities. If this is the case, it may state that any charge in respect of electricity, gas, water, telephone and other services, should be proportionate to the use by the park home owner; in other words a pro-rata calculation.
In addition to this, you must check whether the agreement expressly provides that the pitch fee includes any utility charges, for example, sewerage charges.
If the agreement does not expressly make provision for such a charge, the site owner would not be able to recover any additional amount towards sewerage charges within the pitch fee. Remember: any straightforward flat rate pitch fee will include an element of profit for the site owner, and an element of the site owner’s costs, so if the site owner is meeting such charges out of a flat rate pitch fee, a reduction in that pitch fee could not be secured because sewerage or any other service was not expressly mentioned.
Express and implied terms
A well-drafted written agreement or statement ought to set out very clearly what the pitch fee covers, and whether any services are being provided at an additional cost, but however the express terms are drafted, they can be subject to implied terms. Two types of implied term can be found in pitch agreements or written statements in relation to residential park homes.
Firstly, terms can be implied by the general law to make a contract workable, but the circumstances in which they can be implied are quite limited.
If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact LEASE’s telephone advice line on 0207 832 2525. This article is not meant to describe or give a full interpretation of the law; only the courts can do that. If you are in any doubt about your rights and duties then seek specific advice. The law discussed covers matters pertaining to the English jurisdiction.
To read more about this issue read the March 2017 issue of Park Homes and Holiday Caravan
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