Property Law uk

Maintained by Gary Webber

Mobile homes and caravans

The editor of this section of the site is Tim Selley, solicitor with Crosse and Crosse Solicitors LLP (www.crosse.co.uk)

Mobile Homes Act 2013

Mobile Homes Act 2013

This Act changed a number of features of mobile home law. In particular it deals with pitch fees, a regulation for site ownership along the fit and proper person lines, park rules and restrictions on sale of homes on sites. Not all of the provisions are coming into force at the same time.


Application of the Mobile Homes Act 1983

Howard v Charlton
[2002] EWCA Civ 1086

Facts

The mobile home owner had an agreement, to occupy part of the caravan site, which was protected by s1 of the Mobile Homes Act 1983. Subsequently he added an extension to the caravan. The site owner argued that this made the caravan a fixture, that the protection afforded by the Act therefore ceased to apply and that he was entitled to possession.

Held

The Court of Appeal disagreed. The agreement still applied and there was nothing in the agreement entitling the site owner to terminate it on the grounds stated. In any event the Act applies not to the home as such but to the agreement.


Mobile Homes Agreement

Termination - old notice

Telchadder v Wickland (Hodlings) Ltd
[2012] EWCA Civ 635

Summary

A Judge had been entitled to terminate a mobile home agreement based on a warning notice served three years prior to proceedings being commenced and had taken into account all the relevant factors including disability and convention rights.

Facts

D owned a mobile home that was sited on a plot on a protected mobile home residential site owned by C. D resided there pursuant to a licence agreement dated 1st June 2006, which incorporated ‘Park Rules’.

Following anti-social behaviour by D, which C claimed were in breach of the Park Rules, D served a notice setting out particulars of breach and the anti-social behaviour on 15th July 2006. D served a further warning letter on a few days later. Further warning letters were sent including one on 15 August 2006 after D had dressed up in camouflage and combat clothing, including a mask, and had made unwanted approaches to other residents causing them alarm and distress. Subsequent to that D made threats to kill other residents. Possession proceedings were issued in 2009.

D suffers from a disability; mild learning disability, autistic traits, anxiety disorder and depression. He also has a history of heroin addiction.

C applied for a possession order.

First instance

The Judge found a number of anti-social behaviour allegations had been proved and that there was therefore a breach of the Park Rules and the licence agreement. Paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 of the 1983 Act implies a term into a licence agreement that:
    ‘The owner shall be entitled to terminate the agreement forthwith if on the application of the owner, the appropriate judicial body – (a) is satisfied that the occupier has breached at term of the agreement and, after service of a notice to remedy the breach, has not complied with the notice within a reasonable time; and (b) considers it reasonable for the agreement to be terminated’
The Judge also found that the letter of 15th August 2006 was a notice under the paragraph. He then made an order for possession after considering whether it was reasonable to make such an order in light of the incidents he had found, but also against the background of D’s disability, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Equality Act 2010 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Issues

D appealed on the basis that:
  • The notice of 15 August 2006 was not sufficient notice for the purposes of the Act, and
  • It was not reasonable to terminate the agreement and order possession.
Decision on appeal

The appeal was dismissed.

In relation to the first point, the Court of Appeal found that the notice was adequate. Mummery LJ said that it did what the legislation required in that it:
    "described the conduct complained of, required the defendant to stop it, gave him an opportunity to do so and warned him of the consequences of not doing so."
Further he commented that unlike other forms of statutory notice, there was no prescribed wording or form and no limits on duration.

In relation to the second point, Mummery LJ agreed with D that it was necessary to consider the 1995 Act, the 2010 Act and the Convention, whether or not expressly pleaded or relied upon as part of the circumstances in which an order was to be made. However, the Judge had done precisely that and had balanced D’s rights as against the other occupiers and residents.


Pitch fee increases

Form

Mobile Homes (Pitch Fees)(Prescribed Form)(England) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1505)

A site owner is required to provide detailed information to each resident for whom a pitch fee increase is proposed. These Regulations contain a form, which must be used, or a form with wording substantially to the like effect. If such a form is not used then the review will be invalid. In addition, any residents who pay the reviewed amount will be entitled to seek a refund.

Annual increase

Wyldecrest Parks (Management) Limited v Keynon
[2017] UKUT 28 (LC)
Vyse v Wyldecrest Parks (Management) Limited
[2017] UKUT 24 (LC).

Summary

Both cases dealt with the rights of site owners to increase the month fee that home owners pay. The Tribunal in both cases considered whether increased fees charged by the local authorities for site licences to the site owner could be passed on to the home owners. This was allowed in one of the cases.

Outline facts

Broadly, the ability of site owners each year to increase the monthly pitch fee is governed by Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (as amended) at paragraphs 16 – 20 (the “implied terms”). In both cases these provisions were considered by the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in separate hearings. In each case the sites were operated by the same owner and the same issue arose. This related to whether the charging by the relevant local authority of a site licence fee, which came about due to changes in the licensing regime stemming from Mobile Homes Act 2013, could be passed on to the home owners through the pitch fee increase process.

The Deputy President Martin Rodger QC outlined the law in Kenyon. He said the effect of the implied terms for pitch fee review can be summarised in the following propositions:
    "(1) The direction in paragraph 16(b) that in the absence of agreement the pitch fee may be changed only “if the appropriate judicial body … considers it reasonable” for there to be a change is more than just a pre-condition; it imports a standard of reasonableness, to be applied in the context of the other statutory provisions, which should guide the tribunal when it is asked to determine the amount of a new pitch fee.
    (2) In every case “particular regard” must be had to the factors in paragraph 18(1), but these are not the only factors which may influence the amount by which it is reasonable for a pitch fee to change.
    (3) No weight may be given in any case to the factors identified in paragraphs 18(1A) and 19.
    (4) With those mandatory consideration well in mind the starting point is then the presumption in paragraph 20(A1) of an annual increase or reduction by no more than the change in RPI. This is a strong presumption, but it is neither an entitlement nor a maximum.
    (5) The effect of the presumption is that an increase (or decrease) “no more than” the change in RPI will be justified, unless one of the factors mentioned in paragraph 18(1) makes that limit unreasonable, in which case the presumption will not apply.
    (6) Even if none of the factors in paragraph 18(1) applies, some other important factor may nevertheless rebut the presumption and make it reasonable that a pitch fee should increase by a greater amount than the change in RPI."
Keynon

The Council in this case had delayed in issuing its fee structure so that its increase had not taken place in the year for which the increase in the pitch fee was sought. However, the Upper Tribunal allowed an appeal deciding the list of matters referred to at paragraph 18 was not exhaustive and other factors could be taken into consideration under paragraph 20 (A1).

Vyse

The principle of the recovery of a fee was also accepted by the Upper Tribunal in this case but the Tribunal did not agree it was appropriate for the site owner to pass on part of the licence fee which the authority had added for alleged (but disputed by the site owner) “extra risk due to an apparent lack of management”.

Site licences

Compliance notices

Shelfside (Holdings) Ltd v Vale of White Horse DC
[2016] UKUT 400 (LC)

Summary

Local authorities who serve compliance notices on site owners do not act in a judicial capacity and do not have to be satisfied "beyond reasonable doubt" that a breach has occurred. Fur-ther, there had been no breach of policy in deciding to take the enforcement action.

Relevant statutory provisions

In outline, the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 (CSCDA 1960) provides for the control of certain caravan sites by local authorities. A new licensing regime was introduced largely by amendment to the Act, which came into force in 2014. This enables local authorities to serve compliance notices in relation to, inter alia, breaches of site licence conditions.

Facts

A local authority (L) served compliance notices on the site owner (S) in respect of issues arising from the licence for a site. A home on the site had been situated in contravention of two site licence conditions, namely distance from the site boundary and being too close to another home.

The compliance notices in essence required the home to be moved so as to remedy these two breaches. S appealed against the notices to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). At the hearing S admitted that the two licence conditions had been breached by the siting of the home in question. The FTT found for L and refused to quash the compliance notice. S then ap-pealed to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).

Decision

The Upper Tribunal dismissed the appeal.

S argued that before serving the notice L needed to be satisfied “beyond reasonable doubt” that the breaches had occurred. However, on the basis that the statutory power in section 9A(1) CSCDA 1960 provides for the ability to serve “if it appears” there is a breach, this ground was dismissed. There was no reference to the standard of proof nor should any be im-plied as L was not acting in a judicial capacity. The Tribunal pointed out that the compliance notice procedure was an alternative to criminal prosecution, in which the criminal standard of proof would apply.

S also then alleged breaches of “policy” as to L’s decision to take the enforcement ac-tion. Reference was made to:
  • The Regulator’s code issued by the Department of Busi-ness Innovation and Skills under section 23 of the Legislative Reform Act 2006, which men-tions the 1960 Act as one of the provisions regulated by the Code;
  • The 2008 “Model Standards” for site licence conditions; and
  • The “Best Practice Guide for Local Authorities on Enforcement of the New Site Li-censing Regime” from the Department for Communities and Local Government and is-sued following the Mobile Homes Act 2013.
The Upper Tribunal did not find any failings by the authority having regard to these matters, HHJ Bridge said:
    Not only do I consider that the decision of the FtT is unimpeachable as a matter of law, but I am of the view that the decision was the right decision to make."



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