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Case law update: Recovery of annual licence fees via the pitch fee

June LEASE

The Leasehold Advisory Services’ senior legal advisor Richard Hand and solicitor Ibraheem Dulmeer examine two important cases relating to local authorities’ licence fee charges and the implications for site owners and park residents 

From 1 April 2014, local authorities have been able to charge a site owner an Annual Site Licence Fee (ALF) if they operate a ‘relevant protected site’. This includes most fully residential or mixed use sites.

The local authority must prepare and publish a fees policy before it can impose an ALF on a site owner.

When reviewing the pitch fee, a site owner is allowed to include any increase in management or maintenance costs directly resulting from a change in the law since the last review date by virtue of paragraph 18(1)(ba) of the Consolidated Implied Terms in Chapter 2 Part 1, Schedule 1 to the Mobile Homes Act 1983) (the Implied Terms). This means the ALF can be recovered through the pitch fee.
Once the ALF has been added, it forms a permanent part of the pitch fee and can increase by RPI in subsequent years.

The issue
It had been understood that site owners could only take into account the ALF at the time of the first pitch fee review after 1 April 2014: in other words, the period between 2 April 2014 and 1 April 2015. However, some local authorities were unable to publish their fees policies in time, and this meant that some pitch fee reviews to recover the ALF fell after 1 April 2015.

This begs the question: can an ALF be imposed on a site owner for the first time after 1 April 2015 still be added to the pitch fee? Also: can an increase in the ALF be added in later years?

Clarification of the legal position
The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has now clarified the issue by issuing two related decisions in the cases of  Vyse v Wyldecrest Parks (Management) Ltd [2017] UKUT 24 (LC) and Wyldecrest Parks (Management) Ltd v Kenyon and Others [2017] UKUT 28 (LC).

 


If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact LEASE’s park homes advice line on
020 7832 2525.


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To read more about this issue read the June 2017 issue of Park Homes and Holiday Caravan

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