In P R Hardman and Partners v Marilyn Fox  UKUT 0248 (LC), the Upper Tribunal (the UT) considered the extent to which the park home owners are liable to pay an increased pitch fee to cover the costs incurred by the site owner in providing sewerage services during the previous year and for the future. The Leasehold Advisory Service’s Sehrish Mahmood examines the case…
The starting point for any dispute is to review the written statement, which sets out the terms of the agreement between the site owner and the park homeowner.
In this case, the terms expressly agreed between the site owner and park homeowner were as follows:
3a) ‘to pay to the owner the annual pitch fee subject to review, and
3b) to pay and discharge all general and/or water rates which may from time to time be assessed charged or payable in respect of the mobile home or pitch (and/or a proportionate part therefore where the same is assessed in respect of the residential part of the park) and charges in respect of electricity gas water and other services’.
The relevant implied terms are as follows:
Paragraph 18-20 of the implied terms state that the pitch fee can be increased or decreased in accordance with the Retail Price Index (RPI). The pitch fee can never be increased by more than the RPI.
Paragraph 21 of the implied terms confirms that the park home owner resident must pay the pitch fee and all sums due under a written agreement in respect of gas, electricity, water, sewerage or other services supplied by the site owner.
Paragraph 29 of the implied terms states that the pitch fee does not include utilities unless specifically stated in the pitch agreement. The implied terms cannot be varied or changed by law and take priority over terms in the written agreement.
Mr Hardman owns the site. The residential pitches were each provided with a supply of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) piped from a bulk tank, filled by an independent supplier whose charges, including the cost of renting the tank were met by Mr Hardman.
The supply to the pitches was individually metered at a unit cost set by Mr Hardman to include a contribution towards the cost of providing gas to the communal areas, the costs run up by Mr Hardman in reading meters, tank rental, maintenance of the tank compound and underground pipes, an interest charge and a further administration fee.
In relation to sewerage, which was on a private system, Mr Hardman set a quarterly sewerage charge to include the cost of a permit from the Environment Agency and for monitoring the system twice for the Environment Agency, charges imposed by the contractors for emptying the tanks and for servicing the tanks, and the cost of the electricity required to operate the system.
The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) provides free advice on residential park home matters. If you have any questions regarding the information in this article, contact LEASE on 020 7832 2525 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The LEASE park homes website https://parkhomes.lease-advice.org/ also carries guidance and reports of Tribunal decisions, which you may find of use.
Please note that the information provided in this article serves as a useful introduction on residential park homes. Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. If in doubt, seek specific advice from a specialist solicitor or Direct Public Access barrister. This article is accurate as at 4 October 2019.
Read the full story in the December 2019 issue of Park Home & Holiday Caravan