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Posted 11 April 2014
RPT Decisions – The Written Agreement
In the recent decision of Doughty -v- Smith the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (“the Tribunal”) addressed the issue of whether a homeowner would be liable to pay the pitch fee if they had not received a written agreement in accordance with the provisions of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (“the Act”).
The case involved a homeowner who purchased and moved into a Park home in 2007. The homeowner was provided with two written statements but in a previous Tribunal decision in 2013 these had both been deemed to have failed to satisfy the requirements of the Act because they were incomplete. The Tribunal ordered that the park owner serve a new written statement but this had not been complied with.
Throughout the homeowner’s time on the park no pitch fee had been paid and in the current application the Tribunal was asked to determine whether the homeowner was liable for all unpaid pitch fees dating back to 2007. The homeowner had carried out works to the home and pitch and had entered an agreement with the park owner in 2008 providing that she would pay pitch fees from 2008 but that the park owner would pay for the cost of the works. The homeowner had withheld payment of the pitch fees pending receipt of an Act compliant written statement.
The Tribunal decided that although there was no written agreement in place there was an informal agreement of some form which entitled the homeowner to site their mobile home on the pitch and to which the provisions of the Act applies. Therefore both parties would be required to comply with the implied terms of the Act.
However the Tribunal further ruled that in the absence of any written agreement and by virtue of the Act’s provisions any express terms which were not in writing would be unenforceable. The Tribunal held that any term imposing an obligation to pay pitch fees would be an express term and therefore if these terms were not in writing the park owner would be unable to enforce them. Ultimately this means that the homeowner would not be liable to pay any pitch fees until they were given a written agreement which complied with the requirements of the Act.
The decision was made on the specific circumstances of the case which included the complete failure of the park owner to respond to the application and prior to that the failure to provide an Act compliant written statement. To avoid a similar outcome in any proceedings all residential park owners should ensure that when they sell a mobile home the purchasers are given a written agreement in accordance with the provisions of the Act. A failure to do so could result in the homeowners not being liable for the payment of pitch fees.
If you have any questions relating to the issuing of a written agreement, to purchasers of new homes or to existing homeowners if you believe they were never given an agreement, contact the parks team by telephone 01392 207020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org