The theme for our seminars is based around the hot topic this year which is the Residential Property Tribunal (RPT). We’ve looked back over the last 18 months and worked out what issues have been bothering our clients and a number of recurring problems which we think are worth a reminder of the basics.
We can say with confidence that sooner or later every residential park owner will get to have their day in the RPT and as much as anything these seminars are there to help you keep out of the RPT or if you have to go there to ensure that you put forward the best case possible.
With effect from 21 March 2012 all disputes, bar termination, relating to park homes sited on residential parks in Wales will be determined by the Residential Property Tribunal not the County Court. As with the transfer of jurisdiction in England in 2011 there is a transitional period. Any applications made to the court prior to 21 March 2012 will not be affected and where a pitch fee proposal is made before 21 March park owners will have until 21 March next year to apply to the County Court to determine the review.
It will be of interest to park owners with parks in Wales that the Welsh Assembly have approved the introduction of a bill to regulate how second hand park homes are sold. The bill seeks to introduce independent monitoring of meetings between the park owner and potential purchasers and establish a system of arbitration for home owners who feel they have lost money on sales as a result of the park owner’s actions – http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/wales/newsid_9690000/9690772.stm - The bill also seeks to introduce a fit and proper test for park owners. We will be monitoring the bill’s progress and will keep you up to date with developments.
Owners of residential parks are obliged to approve a buyer unless it is reasonable not to do so. A recent case in the Residential Property Tribunal has highlighted that the park owner must put all their reasons for not approving a buyer into the written response which must be made within 28 days of the request, and that those reasons must be reasonable in the eyes of a “reasonable person”.
For more on this case, see http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/courts-and-tribunals/tribunals/residential-property/, or our website here.
The customer hasn’t been for years, you haven’t been paid pitch fee or any storage charges, you can’t get hold of them by phone and your letters are being returned. Surely you can just go ahead and sell the caravan? Not so, sadly, and you could end up in hot water if you did, not to mention facing a rather disgruntled customer! All is not lost and there is a way of dealing with an abandoned caravan, but it does rely on following certain rules to the letter to reduce the risks to the park owner. Get in touch or click the link below to find out more…
Abandoned holiday caravans – are you getting it right?
This has been on the back burner for quite some time now but Stephen Gilbert MP brought it up in parliament yesterday so it could be back on the agenda – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-16490381 – it is certain to be one subject considered by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry into Park Homes which was announced at the end of last month. Keep your eyes peeled on our blog as we’ll be keeping up to date with developments.
The gales that have buffeted the country over the last few days and their effects, are another timely reminder to make sure your park and your customers have adequate insurance for their holiday caravans.
If you have a pitch fee dispute on your residential park concerning a review where the proposals letter was served before 30 April 2011 (but no more than 6 years before the annual pitch fee review date), you have until 29 April 2012 in which to bring a claim in the County Court for the relevant pitch fee review to be determined. Should you miss this deadline then the law will prevent you from seeking the determination of the disputed increase, and therefore you will be unable to recover any increase from the residents concerned, unless you are able to convince a Court why your application should be heard out of time. Limitation of actions is a very important aspect of the law and you should not rely on the Court granting you an extension of time in which to bring a claim of this nature. If you want to sort out the dispute you must bring your application before the appropriate County Court in plenty of time before the deadline of 29 April 2012.
If you have a pitch fee dispute and you are concerned about the impending deadline and what action you can take to try and resolve it, please contact the parks team on 01392 207020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
On 21 December 2011, the Commons Select Committee issued a press release announcing an inquiry into park homes with the view to gathering as much information on issues relating to the law on park home living to see if it necessary to change it.
The Committee has invited interested parties, in particular park home owners, park owners and local authorities to give their views on the adequacy of the law as it affects park home owners by 1 February 2012.
For more information go to: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/communities-and-local-government-committee/news/park-homes/.
A chimney fire in a mobile home two weeks ago (see link below) led to the fire brigade advising that homeowners should have their chimneys swept every year. That’s all well and good, but there’s a question about whether a park owner can insist on that if a home owner doesn’t follow the fire brigade’s advice. It’s doubtful, in which case it probably all comes down to valid insurance and whether the home owner is required under the terms of their policy to sweep any chimneys.