By Ibraheem Dulmeer, LEASE Legal Adviser, and Nick Dyson, partner at Blacks Solicitors LLP
This article was first published in Park Home & Holiday Caravan Magazine, October 2014.
This document is also available in a print-friendly format (PDF).
So what is a Qualifying Residents’ Association (QRA)? It’s best described as a group of residents who work together to represent the interests of residents on a park. A QRA can operate in a number of ways including consulting with the park owner about issues which are affecting the residents on the park and arranging social activities.
How do you form a QRA?
Practically speaking it would be best to make enquiries with fellow residents to see if there is any interest in establishing a QRA. Perhaps arrange a meeting and notify all home owners of the date and time so a discussion can be held about making the necessary arrangements to form a QRA.
It will then be important to see if you can meet the following conditions which are required to establish a QRA:
- The QRA must represent the interests of residents on that park.
- Membership of the QRA must be open to all residents who own a mobile home on the park.
- The membership of the QRA must be made up of at least 50 per cent of residents who own mobile homes on the park.When trying to establish the percentage of residents in the QRA each mobile home is to be taken as having only one resident. If there is more than one person living in a mobile home it is possible for both of the residents to join the QRA but the individual whose name appears first on the written statement is the relevant individual for the purposes of establishing the 50 per cent.
- The QRA must have no link to the park site owner.In particular the park owner, any employees on the park, agents or family members of the park owner cannot be members of the QRA. This is an important condition to consider in circumstances where a resident may assist a park owner by acting as a warden on the park for example.
- The QRA must keep an up-to-date list of its members which is open to public inspection.It is good practice to ask members to sign a membership list to indicate their membership of the QRA.
- The QRA must have a constitution and if it so wishes a set of rules for the association.The British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) has prepared a model constitution which should be adopted by a QRA to ensure that it meets the relevant criteria.
- The QRA must have a chairperson, a secretary and a treasurer who are elected by the members of the QRA and who are also members of the QRA.Those individuals will play an administrative role and will, for example, ensure that the minutes of meetings are taken and that the membership list is up-to-date.
- All decisions taken by the QRA (with the exception of administrative decisions) must be by way of a vote. Only one vote is permitted per home. So, for example, if a husband and wife have both joined a QRA they will still only have one vote and will need to decide between themselves how to exercise that vote.
The best way to seek formal recognition of the QRA from the park owner is to write to them.
The park owner must acknowledge, in writing, that the QRA meets the above conditions and such recognition letter must be addressed to the secretary of the QRA.
It is also important to ensure that the QRA continues to meet the relevant conditions set out above. For example if a member sells their home, you should approach the new owners and see if they want to be part of the QRA.
In the event that the QRA is unable to comply with the above conditions (such as its membership list falls below 50 per cent of the residents) it will no longer qualify to be classed as a QRA. As a result the park owner will not be obliged to consult with the association to the same extent it would if it continued to be a QRA.
What if a park owner does not recognise a QRA?
If the park owner does not respond to your request for acknowledgment it may be that you are left with no alternative but to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (‘Tribunal’).
The form that needs to be filled in to send to the Tribunal can be found on the LEASE park home website. There is a fixed fee of £100 payable when you file the application. If the tribunal decides to hold a hearing you will have to pay a fixed hearing fee of £200 when you receive notice of the hearing date. The form is relatively straightforward and requires the QRA to provide evidence that it satisfies the above conditions together with any correspondence that has been exchanged with the park owner.
There have been a number of reported decisions in the Tribunal on this topic. The decisions highlight that a park owner must recognise a QRA if it meets the above conditions irrespective of their personal opinion on the QRA or its members.
What must a park owner do if a QRA has been established on the park?
Once established, a park owner must consult with the QRA about matters which relate to the management and operation of the park such as the provision of utilities to the mobile homes on the park or amending the park rules. A park owner must also consult with the QRA about any improvements to the park which will affect (either directly or indirectly) the residents. For example any proposed development work at the site such as re-tarmacing the road.
How does the consultation with a QRA work?
When carrying out the consultation a park owner must follow a set procedure and provide the QRA with at least 28 clear days notice, in writing, of matters which relate to the management or operation of the park. The park owner must be clear in explaining how the proposed works will affect the residents considering both short term and long term effects. The park owner must also state where representations can be made (at a meeting for example or in writing) and importantly must take account of any representations made by the QRA during the consultation process. This is particularly significant in relation to costs that may be passed on in any subsequent pitch fee review.
If you wish to establish a QRA on your park make sure that you speak with fellow residents and liaise with the park owner to inform them of your intentions.
Overall, a QRA can be a great way of ensuring community cohesion on the park and enabling the park owner to consult in an effective way.