Friday, 17 February 2017

It's Corks Out on Mobile Homes

There are around 85,000 mobile homes on about 2,000 sites which are governed by the Mobile Homes Act 1983. A vast number of occupiers have signed agreements in a standard form which is recommended by British Holidays & Parks Association whose logo is to be found on the document.


This standard form agreement says that that in addition to the pitch fee and general or water rates (or both) the occupier must pay to the site owner "charges in respect of electricity gas water telephone and others services." OK, but does that entitle the site owner to extract a general service charge from an occupier such as for reading gas and electricity meters, supplying gas and electricity to communal areas, having to call out electricians to resolve problems, maintain a computer program and generally dealing with administration? No, ruled the Court of Appeal* last Friday. Where this particular form of agreement applies, the site owner cannot pass on to the occupier any charge for these services but only charge up the occupier for what they have paid out to third parties for providing the utilities.


The Court of Appeal decision will not prevent site owners from seeking to collect payment for what has been ruled out, as part of the pitch fee and the standard agreement allows an annual review of the pitch fee. But an occupier will be able to challenge an increased pitch fee and take the challenge to tribunal where the real extra expense incurred by the owner will be under careful scrutiny. They would have to show that the charges in question were unreasonable.

As for occupiers who have settled demands for payments which, according to the Court of Appeal's ruling, were not due, the money overpaid could be claimed back with interest and going back for up to six years.

* The case was P R Hardman & Partners v Greenwood and another [2017] EWCA Civ 52