The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (“Tribunal”) deals with proceedings relating to park/mobile homes. Until 1st July 2013 such matters were dealt with by the Residential Property Tribunal who in turn had taken over jurisdiction for Park Home matters from the county courts on 30th April 2011.
The Tribunal can determine most applications in relation to park home matters. All of the application forms can be found on this website. We list here all the forms necessary to make an application; numbered Form PH1 to Form PH19.
Before you complete and submit an application form, it is important that you read the notes contained in these forms. The notes outline what documents need to accompany the completed application form to be sent to the appropriate regional Tribunal office. On the back page of each application form, there is a helpful list of the addresses and contact details of all the regional Tribunal offices in England.
When a Tribunal considers a case, it will usually comprise a panel of 2 or 3 members, including a chairman The Tribunal members consist of 2 types:
- The chairman, who will usually be a lawyer or surveyor – they are usually responsible for the written reasons for the decision; and,
- Other members who may be lawyers, surveyors, other professional people or lay people.
Section 4 of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 states:
“…a tribunal has jurisdiction: (a) to determine any question arising under this Act [Mobile Home Act 1983] or any agreement to which it applies; and (b) to entertain any proceedings brought under this Act or any such agreement,”
This section gives wide powers to the Tribunal when considering park home matters. For instance applications made in the Tribunal can address the following (non-exhaustive list):
- Disputing utility charges
- Enforcement of site rules
- Pitch fee reviews
- Administration charges
- Refusal of permission for improvement of a park home
- Recognition of a residents association
There is a fee of £100 payable for an application to the Tribunal, and, if required, an additional hearing fee of £200. Unless you qualify for a fee waiver or reduction, this is known as the fee remission system, outlined in form EX160A Court and Tribunal Fees – Do I have to pay them?
For Wales, the Tribunal application fees range from £155 to £515. Please carefully look at the fee structure contained in the application form you are to use.
Retention of jurisdiction of county court in park home matters
It is interesting to note the County Court retains jurisdiction in cases where an application is made to terminate a park home agreement. Otherwise the Tribunal may have jurisdiction to deal with termination where there is a pre-existing arbitration agreement to refer the issue to a Tribunal. Again, it is important to read the notes very carefully in Tribunal form PH12, which deals with an Application by site owner to terminate the agreement
The procedural rules
The Tribunal procedure can be found in Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013. In addition to these procedural rules for Park Home matters, Schedule 10, Supplemental to rule 26 of Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) rules 2013 provides the practice directions.
The Rules are separated in 6 main parts, generally:
- Part 1 sets out the overriding objective,
- Part 2 sets out the Tribunals case management powers,
- Part 3 contains provisions relating to the proceedings and responses,
- Part 4 deals with the hearing and the making and notification of the decisions reached,
- Part 5 deals with the rules about the special rules for various types of matters and
- Part 6 deals with the setting aside, reviewing and appealing against the Tribunal decisions.
The Practice Directions support relevant rules. In particular they set out procedures intended to achieve uniformity in practice. The Practice Directions advise the parties what the Tribunal expects of them and what they should expect from the Tribunal.
The Tribunal has also issued practice directions on applications by a site owner for a refusal order to prevent a sale or gift of a Mobile Home.
In brief, once the Tribunal receives the application, it will go on to assess the urgency and complexity of the matter. Accordingly, it may list urgent matters for hearing within days. For example, there is an application for an urgent sale or gift of a mobile home under Rule 45 of The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013.
When an application form is sent to a Tribunal, it is allocated to a case officer. Administrative staff then manage the progress of the case and deal with any correspondence sent to or by the Tribunal. The case officer can speak to parties about the procedure that needs to be followed. For straightforward cases, the Tribunal can often deal with the matters considering the written evidence submitted by each party. However, each party has the right to request an oral hearing. Please note that court staff cannot provide legal advice.
You may wish to contact your regional Tribunal office and ask to speak to the case officer, if you have any questions about the procedure. Alternatively, you can telephone or write to us.
Consequences of a Tribunal determination
Usually within 6 weeks of a decision/determination, the Tribunal will issue a document containing its decision and the reasons for reaching its decision, unless a party makes a written request that this should not be done.
Full determinations of all Park Homes Cases can be found using the Tribunals Judiciary website.
The decision of a Tribunal is binding upon the parties. The Tribunal has the power to award payments by way of compensation, damages or otherwise directed. For example it has the discretion to award payments for travelling expenses incurred by an Applicant in travelling to the Tribunal.
As a general rule the Tribunal cannot order one party to pay another’s costs but it can order one party to reimburse any fees paid by another. Rule 13 of The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013, shows that the Tribunal may make an order for costs if a party has acted unreasonably, for instance by way of unreasonable conduct during the Tribunal process or failure to comply with its directions.
Any decision by the Tribunal may be appealed to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), the judicial body above the Tribunal. Permission to appeal must be sought from the Tribunal and if that is declined an application for permission can then be renewed to the Upper Tribunal.
The Tribunal process is designed to make the process seamless and user-friendly. Rule 3 of The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013, highlights that it is the overriding objective of the Tribunal process to deal with matters, fairly and justly, proportionately and to avoid delay.