SHADOWS OR SUNSHINE IN THE HILLS AND VALLEYS
I`ve been trying to establish how much was spent last year by the Welsh Government in politely asking site owners in Wales to complete a form declaring the profitability of their parks when considering the loss or reduction of their 10% sales commissions. As a thoroughly honest industry and no doubt in sympathy with their land tenants, we can be sure they will have welcomed a possible reduction in their revenue streams and fallen over themselves in disclosing every penny they earned - Or not.
Whether they were forthcoming or the Welsh Government was hoodwinked is academic, because it was content to rely upon self-declarations and placed the received returns in its `honesty box`, presumably satisfied it had transparently resolved an important question. In so far as England is concerned ( Scotland being the preserve of the acipenseridae family) it is reasonable to assume that the Welsh findings will be regarded as sufficient evidence for this Government to overcome the calls for a `transparent` review by quoting their cousin`s conclusions that the 10% commission should be retained, not mentioning that the prevailing levy is in fact`up to` 10%.and where the speed of the Welsh decision was as much likely to do with upstaging the English procedures as with putting the issue to bed.
If they are to be believed, the Welsh site owner declarations paint a dismal future for the Park Home sector, the results suggesting that the removal or reduction of the commission, which allegedly equates to an average 14% of income, would likely have a negative impact on the viability and sustainability of many Welsh park home businesses, whilst the Barclay-Hanover report commissioned in 2002 .reported site owners as confirming their largest overhead as staff and site maintenance`s. Hypothetically perhaps, but again where was the evidence of such incurred costs, where so many sites are in long-term dilapidation and if the market forecasts are to be accepted, why are so many site owners continuing to invest millions in businesses that have such questionable futures? And should any Government rely upon self-declarations in a sector of highly questionable integrity and where I for one, have witnessed chartered accountants certify six figure operating costs for their site owner clients that had never been incurred. Trusting Government may be – but also at the expense of those it purports to protect.
The facts are that accountants are paid to minimise tax liabilities and even if the whimperings could be believed, I suspect that any negative impact upon the viability of their business is less to do with the sales commissions and more to do with the gearing of their businesses, where borrowings had forecasted revenue streams to which there was no lawful entitlement, the banks couldn`t care less where land acts as security and where emerging challenges have perhaps since lightened the pockets of those who believed they would get away with financial abuses ad infinitum. I wonder. for example, how much has been lost through the kerbing of often fraudulent sales blocking and proceeds that had been diverted into non business accounts to fund personal extravagances or into other unreachable assets. Of course, we will never know, because there is no land registry record of purchases or sales, or access to records of other banking transactions without forensic investigation, Nor is there an official count of the number of homes that pay pitch fees, to which can be added the proportion of monies collected in cash and the percentage of this that may or not be declared. Since 2013, the licence to print money may have been marginally restricted, but where this has been secured by fraud it is unreasonable to expect the victims to pay for the shortfalls - akin to the burglar who complains that his income has reduced because most of his clients have fitted intruder alarms and therefore that his future victims should pay compensation.
It is for these reasons and others that we stand alongside the JUSTICE Campaign and are calling for a `transparent` review, the obstacle being that Government is unlikely to consider the investigatory costs as worthwhile in what is a niche minority market, is likely to pursue and reach conclusions having peeked into the Welsh `honesty box`, can succumb to the overtures of the BH & HPA, regardless of the position that many of its paying members operate regimes that are not dissimilar to non-members and are equally content to rely or even encourage the same unproven information. And if the BH&HPA and its associated industry representatives are not concerned about the data that is fielded, then it should welcome the proposed transparency, where otherwise the suspicions surrounding the economics of the industry will continue to be sustained.
To summarise, no reliance`s can now be placed upon the future abolition of sales commissions or even a reduction. Nor, given that Part Two of the call for evidence forecasted for May 2017 is unlikely to be issued before 2018, can we expect much if anything to emerge before the next election. And by then, what can be inadequately described as the rogue element will have increased its footholds, whilst any added legislation will become entirely unenforceable due to likely further budgetary cuts imposed upon those who are charged with those enforcement and in any event can pick and choose whether to apply them. This does not mean we should lay down our arms – only that we must fight harder to secure transparency in an industry that is rotten to the core and where apathy is the life-blood of those who continue to perpetuate their abuses and negligence`s, protected by the glaringly obvious weaknesses in the laws a regulation that are supposed to apply.
In this part of the matter of essential transparency, I rest my case.
THE PLANNED 2017 REVIEW
Rising house prices are now encouraging downsizing by those who have decided to help their children climb onto the housing ladder. Selling up a family home that has become less manageable is becoming an increasingly attractive option across the housing spectrum that can give an important helping hand to sons or daughters who otherwise have little hope of owning their own homes. It is an option that is increasingly seeing parental moves into the retirement park home sector and whilst many realise their hopes and objectives, others live to regret their decision, wishing they had considered other alternatives once they have discovered they may be expected to live out their remaining lives under exploitative regimes or face years of battles that they can seldom win, or when won, are then faced with yet another.
To its merit, Government responded to the widespread evidence of serious malpractice and in 2013 introduced further protections, including the widening of powers afforded to local authorties. These were bold steps but which under-estimated the resources of the rogue element in their evasions - and over-estimated the will of most local authorities to invest in the protections of what is a niche market whilst under the pressures of financial constraints and increasing responsibilities. Thrown into the mix are the frequent Government references to an aging population and the alleged burdon this creates, contradictory of the acknowledgement of the value of the elderly to society when the votes are to be counted.
Almost daily, we are entertained by the rhetoric of politicians who advocate the need to support the unintentionally poorer and more vulnerable in our society and this must include those in the retirement Park Home sector who have actively contributed to the wealth of our nation and exercised the myriad of values that have now been lost in what is described as a modern society that has become increasing backward in its thinking, evidenced by the escalating problems that are faced by all but the wealthy, regardless of how their assets and disposable incomes have been accrued and where the successes of capitalism and democracy can only be measured against the effective balancing of protectionism between the asset rich and the less affluent in our scoiety
In this reflection, I include the delaying of the 2017 review of the 2013 Act. Certainly there are other and equally important priorities but the implication of the deferrment of Part 2 of the review is that what was planned has clearly been pushed toward the bottom of the pile - but where MP`s of every political colour should be appalled and proactive and standing together to bring about what are urgent vital changes, where what is required will otherwise suffer delays that will likely take us into 2019 or beyond before there is effective implemention of the standardised Government response that repeats its `determination to improve the lives of park home owners` but provides no time-frame within which this may be accomplished.
My message to the Department of Commuinities and local Government and its Ministers is precisely the same as that given in 2010. This was that if the issues were left to fester, the expansion of the rogue element will ultimately lead to an unmanageable market, dominated by the inter-connected rogue and criminal element and all that this implies and it is this advice that will reach fruition unless something is done. Resources may be limited and parliamentary time scarce but the solutions to the common issues are there and it is only the will to prioritise what is needed that will restore the lives of park home owners to what they should always have been.
Part 2 of the call for evidence was planned for May 2017. Will the DCLG now confirm when this is to be issued and once the responses have been received, set out when the recommendations will be concluded and finally put forward for implementation, or are we expected to remain at the bottom of the pile until just before the next election when the relevance of the grey vote become recognised.
JBS Residents Action Alliance
WHILST WE WAIT.
For viable reasons, the progress of the 2017 review of the effectiveness of the 2013 Act has been delayed. In the meantime,the con-men continue to devastate the lives of the trusting unwitting in circumstances that can be preventable.
Time and time again we see holiday homes with restricted occupancy sold as fully residential and homes installed that take the numbers beyond what is permitted. Both can risk the eviction of those who fall for patter of the con merchants, who then go on to lose everything they have worked for.
I have previously advocated that there must be a requirement for all site-owners to provide copies of the prevailing planning consents to prospective buyers of all new homes, which will have the secondary effect of as best ensuring that the installation of new homes at an existing site complies with the given consents. Where this requirement is breached, the simpler it will be to prove premeditated fraud and sequestration of the offenders assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act
I ask that in due course the review takes this recommendation on board.
The latest event can be found via the following link...............
The Park Home Owners JUSTICE Campaign says:
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF BUYING A PARK HOME,
LOOK AT THE LINKS BELOW AND READ TONY TURNER'S WRITE UP.
WOULD YOU WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS?
OR A MOVE TOWARD BIG PROFITS ?
Written by: Tony Turner
JBS Residents Action
It is reported that residents at Bordon’s
have criticised East Hampshire District Council after taking site owner Michael
Wenman Ltd to a tribunal, claiming that Redhouse Park
licensing conditions introduced in 2010 which prohibit hedges and fences over a metre and restrict plots to a single car are unfair. At the June tribunal, although agreeing that this was `over-restrictive`, the judge ruled in favour of upholding the licensing conditions which enables the site owner to invade residents’ plots to remove any hedges and fences which are not of non-combustible material and more than one metre high”.
I suspect that neither the Council nor the tribunal had much choice in making their respective decisions, where at any future date if there was a fire that spread, both would then be publicly lambasted by Mr Wenman for failing to protect his often vulnerable residents. Nevertheless, it is worth speculating upon Mr Wenman's motivations, when in 2004, I believe the BBC exposed his persuasions of vulnerable residents to sell their homes to him for a fraction of their true value, revealing that he had purchased 76 homes at knockdown prices having told the owners that their homes were worthless and allegedly threatened them with costly legal proceedings if they refused.
Quite rightly, residents foresee the destruction of their tended gardens that may transform their park into a barrack-like environment, reduce the value of their homes through the demolition of site and `kerb appeal ` and enable Mr Wenman to repeat his alleged 2004 exercise, where over time the replacement of 76 homes can earn him further millions at the expense the hapless residents, who through pitch fees already likely pay for the food in his expansive table.
Of course, the underlying issue is that of the risks that may or not be imposed by hedges, fences or vegetation between homes that are already spaced to prevent the spread of any fire on a park home site, whereas tomorrow we could each buy a new log home or a holiday home set in a forest and for weeks or months sleep in a towable caravan in an area surrounded by gas bottles and camp bonfires without any comparable restriction. Also where many homes have now been clad with non-combustible materials, and fires at park home sites are a rare event, evidentially creating less risk than in an urban environment, yet again recently exampled by the recent tragedy at
. Grenfell Tower
Ultimately it is a matter of the application of common sense - but where the across the board obsession with `health and safety` has created a multi-billion pound industry that needlessly endeavours to protect us from ourselves and from the actions of others, who apparently devoid of common sense, are nowadays encouraged to rely upon the state to nanny them through life at the expense of the freedoms of the majority. In the meantime, the likes of Mr Wenman can climb on the band-wagon and apply over-regulation as a weapon of attrition potentially intended to line his own pockets, whilst the Councils remain more concerned with the protection of their own backsides and in so doing and as in this case, can support the ulterior motivations of those greedy site owners who are evidenced not to care a jot for the welfare of their land-tenants until such time as they can see a profit to be made.
SELF HELP MAY BE AN OPTION FOR AGGRIEVED RESIDENTS
Whilst there are site owners whose sole interests is the preservation of their revenue streams and decline to discuss or negotiate disputes arising from their own failures to comply with their obligations, the following explains the actions taken by majority residents at a site in Cornwall intended to mitigate their position:
Whilst Government plans to give greater protections for Park Home owners following its review of the effects of the 2013 Act, tens of thousands remain left in limbo to be subjected to the belief of unscrupulous site owners that the only terms relevant to our Written Agreements are those that are in their favour and that those intended to protect us from exploitations can be disregarded. The evidence of this position is overwhelming and the procedures intended to establish otherwise are lacking in clout unless we are willing to pursue matters through the County Courts and risk the manipulations of our justice system by frequently sycophantic lawyers instructed by their site owner clients to win at all costs and ensure that the hapless residents are exposed to costs as a deterrent to others.
This is not to say that the Tribunal services are ineffectual and should not be used in attempts to resolve disputes - but the fact remains that site owners are aware that Tribunal determinations are not directly enforceable and can rely upon the reluctance's of their victims not to pursue enforcements at a County Court, not least due to the unaffordability of legal representation, often linked to fears of possible site owner retribution. Most give up the fight and continue to be exploited and these site owners continue their negligence's and abuses, largely unchallenged.
With particular regard to site maintenances, the contractual obligations of the site owners under the terms of our Agreements include the keeping of common areas in good condition and maintaining any services they supply to our homes or pitch. These are services that are paid for within pitch fees and if not provided to acceptable standards, represent breaches by the site owner of our Agreements. I am not advocating options that may lead to alternative risks - but one exercised by residents in this position has been to provide written notice to the site owner that whilst not a refusal to pay, pitch fee payments would be withheld by the amount estimated to be the proportion of payments that should be allocated to maintenances, inviting the site owner to issue proceedings to recover the shortfalls but advising that if so issued, a counter-claim will be entered alleging breaches of our Agreements against the evidence of neglect that has been accumulated, potentially to include losses incurred where the value of homes has been undermined as a consequence of long-term neglect.
Before exercising this `self help` option, residents collectively wrote to the site owner highlighting the clauses in their Agreements that has been broken, specified what was required to address the disrepairs, provided a reasonable period of time for these to be addressed and stated that if at the end of that period the disrepairs has not been remedied, they would withhold a proportion of the prevailing pitch fees and put those monies aside, advising the site owners that should they wish to challenge the position, they were entitled to issue proceedings for recovery of the shortfall.
In arriving at this position, consideration was given to the common law right known as ‘self-help’ which could be available to home-owners when exercised in the correct manner. Self-help can arise where a landlord is in default of its repairing and maintenance obligation, allowing home-owners to take matters into their own hands and where if disputed, the Courts would consider the question as to whether the actions of the residents was reasonable and that based upon the evidence, hopefully similarly conclude that residents should not be paying for services set out in a contract that are not provided. Similar `self help` was applied where there were proven over-charges and those that had no lawful basis and where the first withholding commenced in 2010, no effective legal challenges have so far been made by the site owners and the monies saved by participating `self help` home-owners is c £1,000 per annum per home and over time, this has collectively amounted to a very considerable sum.
Understandably and strictly correctly, the position of the advisory services IPHAS AND NAPHR who role it is to offer its interpretations of prevailing law and regulation, is that the withholding of monies would represents a breach of residents Agreements and that pitch fees should be paid in full at all times. There is substance to this position but there are few in other circumstances who having entered into an agreement with a supplier, would continue to pay for goods and services that have not been provided and such principles are just as valid where pitch fees include maintenances that a site owner declines to undertake..
No one should consider this self help option without taking legal advice but where the costs can be equally shared between residents. It may be bold step to consider and action but the fact remains that only when the site-owner is faced with a possible reduction in revenue streams will they sit up and take notice. At best it will bring them to the table but if not, the onus will be upon the site-owner at his own costs to prove entitlement to monies for services that are not provided and if the evidence of consistent neglect is there, this will be difficult for them to establish.
NOTE; The above should not be regarded as qualified legal advice. It simply sets out the position taken collectively by residents as members of a qualifying Residents Association as a last resort intended to avoid continued legal proceedings undertaken at Association costs and to place the ball in the court of the site-owner. As stated, always take legal advice before considering any intended breach of your Agreement.
JBS Residents Action
Lakeminster Park residents give up six-year court battle to stay in their homes after losing appeal
ESTATE AGENTS and The Sale of Park Homes
The JUSTICE Campaign hears far too often about the problems that park home residents face when using Estate Agents who quite simply have not made themselves aware of the 2013 regulations. Therefore I am happy to post
MONEY FOR OLD ROPE
BRITISH GAS - DOUBLE STANDARDS
At the end of this post you will be able to access and download just one copy account of others, where multiple park owner Jeffrey Small has been content to demand and receive payments from residents for utilities without lawful entitlement whilst threatening legal proceedings if the hapless residents did not pay, these being the subject of subsequent actions brought by home-owners at Taunton, Plymouth and Exeter County Courts, following which the tens of thousands falsely alleged to be owed were miraculously written off.
At the same time and unsurprisingly, monies for utilities collected from residents by Smalls elsewhere have not been passed on to their own suppliers, where in this particular example the supplier of electricity ( British Gas ) are equally content to allow the debit to continue to accrue.
Whilst ordinary domestic consumers are frequently chased by utility service providers for small sums of alleged arrears, this policy does not appear to apply to the multi-millionaire landlords who collect what is due from their tenants and do not pass these monies on. This implies sanctioned discrimination against the less well-off, whilst favouring even the most dubious of businesses.
Example British Gas and Jeffrey Small, the notorious cross-county operator of retirement parks who in 2013 had £178,000 in unsatisfied County Court judgements continues to take advantage of the apathy of utility service companies to collect their debts from those who well can well afford to pay. Further examples can be given where these particular traders had not passed on the £60,000 collected over five years from residents at just one park to South West Water and there are other substantial monies well overdue to other utility supplies, where there are similarly accrued current debts that the suppliers decline to attempt to recover. At another small retirement Park in Wiltshire, there are recent demands to residents for payments already made but where c £25,000 is owed by Messrs Smlls to EON and a further substantial sums previously paid by residents that has not so far found its way to Thames Water. There are, of course a further 14 sites where similar circumstances are likely to apply.
In Smalls case, the added anomaly is that the latest British Gas account showing an unpaid accrued debt for electricity of £29,890.17 for one small site and issued in the trading names of J & B Small Mobile Homes. At various Courts where they have appeared and where the legal documents have included the trading names of J & B Small Park Homes, JB &J Small Parks Homes, JBS Park Homes, J Small Park Homes, B Small Park Homes, B& J Small Park Homes and more recently Sovereign Park Homes Estates Ltd and Sovereign Park Home Developments Ltd., at no time has evidence emerged that they also trade under the name of J & B Small Mobile Homes, which British Gas records as the account holder. Potentially significant also, is that the electricity Account is marked as a business Account where the supply is principally residential, an issue which created previous problems where the supply was cut off as far back as 2009, described in the following link:
residents-left-dark-site- owners-unpaid-bills/story- 11378154-detail/story.html
In June 2010, the Ofgem review of suppliers approaches to debt management and prevention was criticised, confirming in section 2.11. that suppliers have licence obligations which require them to take all reasonable steps to ascertain a customer‟s ability to pay. However this obligation should not extent to trading businesses who act as re-sellers, have collected and banked the monies but not passed them on for periods of years, this being a not uncommon position that the report ignored.
I suggest that British Gas ( Business ) and other utility suppliers who are similarly placed undertake investigation of its supplier accounts with such trading entities, where it is their current policy of collections to impose upon those who for genuine reasons may have difficulties making payments, whilst their millionaire clients are free to accrue debts with out any apparent issue - but which collaterally adds to the costs of those who for usually good reasons cannot afford their bills.
JBS Residents Action Alliance
Tel: 01579 350224
JBS Residents Action
IMPORTANT REQUEST FOR FEED-BACK
In what eventually became a seven year battle in financial transparency, one particular cross-county site owner has finally conceded to the allegations that without the knowledge of residents, they had been recording alleged arrears over periods of years in amounts of a few hundred to several thousands of pounds per home. These monies have now been written off but had they not been discovered, similar circumstances can enable a rogue site owner to present a demand for payment at the point of sale of a home or, if the home-owner has passed away, from the next of kin or the executors of the deceased estate who may not be in possession of the residents records that could otherwise prove the monies not to be owed. I have received reports from across the UK that this practice is more widespread than as first thought and if so, then the evidence needs to be submitted to the DCLG seeking the strengthening of the existing provisions in financial transparency within the terms of the Mobile Homes Act.
To be clear and as serially argued by the site owners counsel at Court, there is currently no provision within the terms of our Agreements that require a site owner to provide Statements of Accounts which would otherwise alert a home-owner and enable challenge to the recording of such alleged arrears. It is a matter of good practice only which Tribunals cannot enforce, Local Authorities do not appear to have either the resources or the will to undertake effective investigations and where even if the belated demands for payment are secured, the police will likely regard what can otherwise be described as the obtaining of monies under false pretences as a civil matter.
I would like to see a provision within the terms of the MHA that upon written request, a site-owner is required to provide a Statement of Account free of charge within 21 days of receipt of such a request. This will then close the current loop-hole that enables a site owner to refuse or ignore what is essential financial transparency.
If you have evidence of this practice or believe that you may be similarly placed in this position but are unable to secure the proof, please contact me by email or by post. Any and all responses will be regarded in the strictest of confidence and when accumulated, the summary of evidence will be passed to the Park Home Owners JUSTICE Campaign for eventual submission to the DCLG.
Please send your information and any relevant copy documentation to me by post or email:
JBS Residents Action
c/o 49A, St Dominic Park
Below is an attached article from Private Eye. Can you copy just the article WATCH OUT WEIR AHEAD and post it on our INFO FROM OTHER SOURCES page under the following heading
Watch Out. Weir Ahead! Article
AS PUBLISHED IN PRIVATE EYE
Park home residents who are in receipt of an income related benefit such
as Pension Credit or Working Tax Credit may be eligible for a boiler
upgrade or heating grant. For further information please contact :
Telephone : 0800 0246 234
has always promoted and proved
there is strength in numbers
we are happy to publish this letter on our pages.
RADICAL CHANGE OR TEMPORARY SMOKE SCREEN ?
On April 1st 2017, an Agency Agreement became effective between Jeffrey and Barbara Small which saw the management of their sites assigned to Real Estate Director (RED) a partnership of Chartered surveyors based in Malmsbury, Wiltshire. The move is believed to represent the first example of multiple Park Home sites now being managed externally by a business that has entered the sector for the first time and one that coincides with the outsourcing of residents accounts. It is worth reviewing how this may have come about and what can be learned from this precedent.
Firstly, it has to be said that the future successes of this transition are yet to be tested. The agency agreement closely followed class action proceedings previously brought by residents at Taunton, Plymouth and Exeter County Courts, exampling imposed charges to which there was no lawful entitlement but which without the residents knowledge had been recorded as alleged arrears. Key to revealing the extent of these records were Court Applications seeking orders for Statements of Accounts, finally culminating in a two hour Directions Hearing before senior Judge HHJ Cotter QC, who stayed the proceedings to enable Cornwall Council to review its own position in the light of the unchallenged restraint order they had secured against the Smalls in 2011. However, the Council declined to become involved and their failures to return the notified evidence of financial abuses to the Court under the terms of that order are now subject to formal complaint and internal investigation to establish why the home-owners needed to issue their own serial legal proceedings at their own costs, when their own prevailing order enabled them to first take action as long ago as 2013. It is worth noting that as a direct consequence of these challenges, residents in receipt of Messrs Smalls first Statements of Accounts exampling alleged arrears of between a few hundred to several thousands pounds per home are since found to have owed only monies not previously invoiced, or nothing, or to be in refundable credit.
Residents have welcomed this cross-county move, which will see the administration and maintenances of sites delegated to a business regulated by the RICS but it remains to be seen whether their appointment represents a forced change in Messrs Smalls operating policies, or a short-term smoke screen that in any future legal proceedings will offer them the opportunity to plead effected changes that mitigate their previous trading practices, to later abandon the agency Agreement and continue as before. Only time will tell.
However, what can be learned from this latest event are the rewards that can be gained by collective action, where tribute is deserved to residents who stuck together over a period of years to challenge the imposed charges, held pitch fees at their 2009 level, halved the costs of water and sewerage charges, removed unlawfully applied service charges and demolished the Divide and Rule tactics intended to deter the efforts of Associations. And whether or not the appointment of third party management eventually succeeds or fails, it nevertheless confirms that collective responses are essential to any change.
Most home-owners in a similar position have found their Local Authorities unwilling to act, the police service regarding such disputes as civil issues and the bullying by some sites owners backed by sometimes dubious legal representatives, all regarded as obstacles that cannot be overcome. What is forgotten is that most bullies are cowards, residents Agreements are binding contracts and that the Tribunals and Courts are there to ensure that these are mutually complied with. Neither the stroppy or threatening site owner, nor their well paid waffling lawyers, can argue otherwise. Meanwhile, the greatest weapon in their armouries are their reliance's upon the unwillingness of home-owners to act collectively, usually because they prefer to pass the buck to one or two of their neighbours whilst hiding behind their own curtains and inventing reasons for doing nothing for themselves, such apathy is the rogue traders best friend.
The point of this item is to underline that if you want changes, they will not be handed to you on a plate. They will need to be fought for and only collective action can hope to bring this about. Site owners cannot prevent the forming of Residents Associations, the creation of strategic Alliances between sites under one ownership, they cannot prevent Applications to the Tribunals and the Courts and the applied bullying tactics are nothing more than a contrived defence that disguises their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Drag them out from behind the skirts or trousers of their often sycophantic lawyers and like errant school children, they will resort to their rehearsed excuses, cast the blame elsewhere and then crumble like stale scones found at the back of an unopened cupboard.
Whether this example of forced changes in management succeeds or eventually fails, it examples what can be gained by standing together. Single voice are lost but the chorus is always heard.
Stand up to be counted and anything is possible. Hide behind the excuses and you will succeed in nothing whilst the errant rogue will laugh all the way to their banks without a jot of concience because these are the likely reasons that they entered the retirement park home market in the first place. We owe it to ourselves, to our more vulnerable neighbours and to our families and friends who as observers may be in equal despair. We are men not mice and women not butterfies. When predators swoop we can either camouflage ourselves until the next attack, or fight back. We may be individually weaker but there is always strength in numbers.
If you do not have a collective voice, create one. There is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained by turning the tables and standing behind them. The choice was ours and it is also yours - but no-one who has done nothing has a right to continue to complain. If you do not have an Association form one. If you are part of a rogue site-owners group of parks, contact and work with the others – And remember there will be no better time to start than today.
JBS Residents Action Alliance
SMALLS FINALLY TAKE THE INITIATIVE
After long-term challenges of their trading activities by the JBS Residents Action Alliance and in a move welcomed by cross-county residents, on April 1st 2017, Jeffrey and Barbara Small appointed an external organisation to manage their Park Home businesses. They have entered into an agreement with Real Estate Director (RED) who state that they “position themselves in partnership with their clients and engage with the management team to understand the business and its plans for the future and develop and implement a strategy around these plans”.
Whether this move is a consequence of the legal challenges that have been undertaken and a belated intention to operate their businesses within expectations, or a lead up to an exit strategy by Jeffrey and Barbara Small from the market is not yet clear, but it should benefit all home-owners across their 16 sites once the new team has undertaken its full review and established the frame-work within which it will manage the businesses in the foreseeable future.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF ONE RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
LED BY TONY TURNER
WHO IS SO DESERVING OF A PLACE ON THE HONOURS LIST.
On Wednesday 29th March, the seventh AGM of the St Dominic Park Residents Association in Cornwall was followed by a surprise event that enabled members to show their appreciation for the work and successes of the Association Chair. Much to his surprise, Tony Turner, who in 2011 also founded a cross-county Alliance between Associations at other of the site-owners parks was presented with a Vienna wall clock engraved with the words `Tony. with thanks. Association members 2017` together with other quality gifts selected to acknowledge his successes and for the support of his partner Alex, in what has been a long fight inside and outside of the Courts for changes in the way the site was run. Afterwards Tony told them that it had been a privilege and that the successes would not have been achieved if all members had not decided to present a united front to show that they would not be exploited.
Successes have included the control of pitch fees with no increase since 2009, the slashing by half of water and sewerage charges, ensuring the direct supply of gas, the elimination of illicit service charges - and other work that has seen the outgoings of most homes reduced by more than £650 a year and final negotiated agreements that will control the charges that can be applied in the future. “ We have” he said “ collectively resolved the issues surrounding financial transparency and hopefully the lives of residents will now become what they should always have been “
Tony has since referred to the need for all residential parks to form active Associations that question and confront the trading practices of those site owners who abuse their positions. He said, “ Those who do not are the most likely to be exploited by the rogue operators. They will be seen as receptive to abuses that throughout the UK, majority Local Authorities and police services far too often dismiss as local civil disputes and if one door closes, then another needs to be opened and the foot kept in the door. The rogue element thrive upon the apathy of those who unwilling to fight for their implied and statutory rights and although this can sometimes become a long haul, ultimately resolve is in the hands of every home-owner, where active solidarity and determination are key to all successes.
WELL DONE TO TONY AND ALL THE RESIDENTS OF St. Dominic Park Residents Association in Cornwall.
SUPPER STAR, JUSTICE Campaign member Bill Connelly is trying to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, a subject the he and many JUSTICE Campaign Members will probably have been touched by
Bill is walking the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William a distance of 97 miles. Bill will start his walk on 5th April in Glasgow and will arrive eight days later in Fort William.
This is an amazing effort by Bill and If you feel this is something that you can support, please make a donation to justgiving.com and search for Bill Connelly. You will then find details of the walk and how to donate. ALL MONEY GOES DIRECTLY TO MACMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT.
Is ERYC Facing A Possible £10m Claim?
Posted on August 25, 2016by andystrangeway
LAKEMINSTER PARK LTD – PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release – 24 August 2016
Lakeminster Park Ltd and resident Alan Coates have been granted permission by the Court of Appeal to appeal His Honour Judge Pelling QC’s decision (of 6 November 2015) not to revoke his ruling (made on 14 April 2015) to strike out Lakeminster Park Ltd’s and Alan Coates’ appeal claim.
The claim relates to their joint appeal against the decision of the Planning Inspector Diane Lewis in September 2014 when she upheld East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s (ERYC) refusal of planning permission for permanent residential occupancy at
, Beverley. Lakeminster
Lakeminster Park Ltd and Alan Coates are also seeking to put forward new evidence and introduce another resident as a co-appellant in the case.
A representative of Lakeminster Park Ltd said:
“We are very pleased to have been granted leave to appeal the rulings made by Judge Pelling QC last year. We are now in the process of preparing our case for the appeal hearing, a date for which has yet to be set.
“We have written to the remaining residents of
, who have supported our appeal from
the beginning, to update them on our ongoing legal action in respect of the
planning inquiry decision. Lakeminster Park
“We remain committed on their behalf to take this case back to another planning inquiry to prevent any remaining resident from being evicted from their homes.”
Email To Nigel Pearson, Chief Executive ERYC
I was made aware that Cllr Harold held a public meeting last night regarding
. Ironically, this was on the day I received a
Press Release regarding Lakeminster Park Ltd and their ‘right to appeal’ Judge
Pelling QC’s ruling of 14th April 2015 which struck out Lakeminster Park Ltd
and Alan Coates’ appeal claim. Lakeminster
My source tells me that Gosschalks have lodged a claim on behalf of the residents against the developer of
for £5 million plus costs. Lakeminster Park
If the appeal is won then it would stand to reason that the developer will sue the council for losses in excess of £5m which with aggravated damages etc could escalate to a figure approaching £10m or more.
Can you or Diane Hayden advise what provisions have been made to mitigate this potential cost, for example, do you have a CFA or ETA agreement/policy in place? The council has a ‘duty of care’ and a ‘duty of candour’ to explain what is happening.
Finally, could I request that the information on the ERYC website in relation to
is update to reflect
the latest developments? Lakeminister
Cllr Andy Strangeway
Pocklington Provincial Ward
Probity In Public Office
The Park Home Owners JUSTICE Campaign
was pleased to be able to assist Age UK with their Petition
"If she hadn’t had her family to help you, where would she be? The council are just overstretched." Daughter of
You make a difference to the lives of older people and we really appreciate it.
The time you spend campaigning with us is so important. We can’t do this without you. You help us to make a huge difference to the lives of older people.
Last year you:
Helped us to bring the plight of thousands of older people living in cold park homes to the attention of the Government – over 7,500 signed our petition calling on the Government to roll out an energy efficiency scheme specifically tailored to park home residents, to enable them to reduce their heating costs and keep warm and well in winter.
We are delighted to report that a cross party Parliamentary group has been set up to look into the issue and we’re continuing to work with MPs and industry representatives to keep the pressure up.
Helped us to call on the Government to abandon plans to transfer responsibility for the disability benefit Attendance Allowance to local councils – more than 14,400 signed our open letter to Government voicing deep concern over their proposals for the future of this benefit, and asking them to think again. More than 2,000 also emailed their own MPs about the issue, and we will be letting you all know about the outcome shortly.
Highlighted the issue of loneliness among our ageing population with our 'No one should have no one campaign' – almost 57,000 signed our petition to demonstrate that loneliness in later life is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently. We handed this in to Number 10 Downing Street in March.
In response to the campaign, the Health Secretary said “As our population ages, it is so very important that people are not overlooked and left without human contact and interaction… This is a wonderful campaign from Age UK and I encourage everyone to lend their support and consider those on their own."
If you want to know more about what Age UK does across the country and around the world – visit our website www.ageuk.org.uk.
Thank you again for all you have done for older people this year. I hope you had a wonderful festive season and we wish you all a very happy new year.
RESIDENTS STATEMENTS OF ACCOUNTS - COUNTY COURT PROCEEDINGS
CLAIMANT: ANTHONY TURNER ALSO REPRESENTING OTHERS AS NOMINATED v JEFFREY AND BARBARA SMALL T/A INTER ALIA AS J B & J SMALL PARK HOMES.
( Jeffrey & Barbara Small also trade as Sovereign Park Home Estates Ltd., & Sovereign Park Home Developments Ltd.,Taunton )
UPDATE ON PROCEEDINGS
Following the Hearing at Plymouth County Court before District Judge O`Neil on November 25th 2016 concerning the provision to home-owners at St Dominic Park of accurate Statements of Accounts, it has been ordered that the matter be referred to His Honour Judge Cotter QC for consideration on the papers and further directions. HHJ Cotter QC ( Circuit Judge and Deputy High Court Judge at the Queens Bench Division and Administrative Court). is currently the senior resident Civil Judge in Devon and Cornwall. By 4pm on the 3rd February 2017, the parties are directed to identify the outstanding issues on liability for the charges set out in Messrs Smalls accounts delivered to residents on 23rd November 2016.
NOTE: All home-owners are entitled to site owner transparency in applied charges. These proceedings followed the determination of a Ist Tier Residential Property Tribunal and a subsequent Application by residents to Taunton County Court and when not complied with by the site-owners, a further Application to Plymouth County Court. Whilst these necessary proceedings underline the anomaly that Ist Tier Tribunals are not enforceable other than by a County Court, when referred such matters are taken seriously and Judges are willing and able to assist, including where necessary the holding of site owners who do not comply with their obligations to account. I urge all home owners who have evidence of overcharging or other financial abuses to make use of our justice system by first Applications to Ist Tier Tribunals and where there is non-compliance with its determinations, to refer any consequential dispute to a County Court. Whilst the procedures are cumbersome and where neither majority local Authorities are willing to assist and the police generally regard financial abuses including attempted or committed fraud as civil issues or evade their responsibilities in the taking of criminal action, the civil Courts remain the only viable means of properly resolving such disputes. The rogue site owner element rely upon the apathy, unwillingness or fears of home-owners to take collective action and the turning of the tables is the only current viable option. Government reviewers of the 2013 Act are asked to take note that no-one purchased their home in the expectation of either needing to concede to such abuses or to face years of litigation and therefore that site-owner financial transparency must urgently be enforced by meaningful legislation.
APPAULING TREATMENT OF THE ELDERLY AND VULNERABLE.
SURELY THIS SHOWS THE NEED FOR FIT AND PROPER TO BE INTRODUCED IN ENGLAND
SCUMBAGS supplied to the JUSTICE Campaign by Tony Turner of the JBS Residents Action Alliance.
Some may say that the work and efforts invested into the public exposure of retirement park owners Jeffrey and Barbara Small have already revealed much about the consequences that can fall upon those that have little or no option but to contend with their appalling regime. However, the depths to which their negligence’s and belligerences can sink is further exampled below.
Some two years ago, a home-owner in his eighties at one of Smalls parks approached me and said
“ Tony, we have received this bill from the Smalls for about £1,500 . I know we don't owe this money but I'm going to pay it because if anything happens to me, I don't want to leave my wife with the worry of a financial dispute with these people“ According to the quoted records, the full bill was then paid.
Within the past two weeks, his similarly aged widow received a draft account from Smalls which record what are believed to be those paid monies as outstanding arrears. It was handed to her just 24 hours before the inquest on her kind and unassuming husband following his passing away after a fall in their garden which for years had been his pride and joy
I cannot on this page sufficiently express my outright disgust at this latest event - but I do accept the risks that are a consequence of the consent order obtained without trial of the evidence in Smalls contrived defamation claim that was intended to stifle such exposures. Should they make a further Application to the High Court and succeed in what will be their third attempt for my committal to prison for exposing their unfitness to operate in any housing sector, hopefully we will share the same cell !
Please help others by sharing this and other posts below as widely as possible
PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT IN THE PARK HOME SECTOR
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 gives both criminal and civil remedies to residents from abuses. There are two criminal offences: • pursuing a course of conduct amounting to harassment and a more serious offence where the conduct puts the victim in fear of violence. Harassing a person includes alarming the person or causing the person distress. A “course of conduct”, which can include speech, must normally involve conduct on at least two occasions, although there are exceptions to this. In addition to the criminal offences, a civil court can impose civil injunctions in harassment cases as well as awarding damages
( Commons Library Briefing, 18 May 2016 Summary)
Sadly, it is the widespread experience of many park home owners that the authorities fail to protect them from repeated abuse that may be verbal, actions intended to intimidate outside of their homes, threats of legal proceedings including eviction that if pursued could not possible succeed - and perhaps the worst of all, the encouragement of some gullible or vulnerable neighbours to involve themselves in contrived allegations or bullying against a neighbour who has complained about the site owner on the likely promise of favourable treatment. Even more sadly, Local Authorities do not use their powers and the usual response from the police service is that such event on private land are civil issues.
To overcome the obstacles, there are steps you can take to try to stop harassments which could also help if you decide to take legal action.
Keep records. Ask your landlord to put all communications with you in writing. Do the same yourself and keep copies. That way, you will have a record of all dealings with your landlord and of any disputes as they happen. If you do decide to take action against your landlord, any records you keep will be useful evidence. This can include a diary, notes on your calendar, photos and videos.
Contact your landlord. Write to your landlord to ask them to stop the harassment. If this doesn't work, write to them saying that if the harassment continues you will take legal action.
Contact the police. Call the police on 999 if you are being threatened and are in immediate danger, otherwise file a report and if you are not satisfied by the response or outcome, contact your local Police Commissioner.
Contact your Council but if you are similarly dissatisfied you might be able to make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman about private landlord harassment.
Contact your MP and make a surgery appointment.
Get an injunction. Legal aid is available for injunctions against landlords who harass tenants.
COURT PROCEEDINGS – UPDATE
An Application for an order requiring Jeffrey & Barbara Small to supply their residents with accurate Statements of Accounts is the subject of a Directions Hearing listed for 25th November 2016 at Plymouth County Court.
Following the filing of a claim for damages under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, permission has been granted by the Court to serve the claim upon the defendants Jeffrey & Barbara Small at their Taunton trading address.
( Jeffrey & Barbara Small trade as SOVEREIGN PARK HOME DEVELOPMENTS LTD and SOVEREIGN PARK HOME ESTATES LTD, also believed to be trading as JBS Park Homes, J & B Small Park Homes, JB & J Small Park Homes, J Small Park Homes, B Small Park Homes and B & J Small Park Homes )
PETITION: Direct Council to use the Mobile Home Powers devolved to them, without option.
Tuesday 21st March 2017OUR DAYOn this day in 1965 Dr Martin Luther King led 3,000 civil right demonstrators in a march from Selina to Montgomery in Alabama. On 21st March 1981 the Charles and Dianne wedding procession started from Buckingham Palace to St Paul`s Cathedral. On March 21st 1990. 100,000 took to the streets in poll tax demonstrations and on the same day in 2009, thousands marched through Naples in anti-Mafia protests. I doubt that our JUSTICE Campaign commission protest will similarly end up in the history books -but 21st March 2017 will still be OUR day.Anecdotally, the sales commission emerged when land-owners long ago decided to take a cut when assisting the sales of holiday caravans and this went to become what park home site owners variably described as a deferred payment to subsidise the up-front losses incurred in the sales of new homes, or as an exit fee to cover the costs of pitch reinstatement when a used home was sold. Both attempts at justification were clearly contrived nonsense and having demolished the invention, the storyline has since changed to the commission being an essential part of their revenue streams, without which their businesses will become unviable. Dismissing the tens of millions pocketed as a consequence of decades of sales blocking, the latest industry ploy is to effectively blackmail Government by warning of the potential collapse of an important housing sector if their demands for the continuation of this inequitable levy upon home-owners assets are not met.The true economics of the industry have never been transparent. At the current realistic valuation of£30,000 per pitch rented out at just £150 per month, the non risk return on capital ( this being the rate of return calculated by expressing the economic gain, or profit, as a percentage of the capital used to produce it ) equates to 6% and annually increases by the RPI in parallel with or against increases in land valuation. Whilst this return may seem modest, where parks were purchased at the time when the pitch value was just £10,000, the return becomes 18%, some 50% higher than the average profitability of UK private non-financial businesses producing a net rate of return of c12% based upon the latest data - and if a site is new or expanded and new homes installed, millions can be made from those sales. Add the service charges and the 10% commission on all sales and the site-owner protests of commission dependency falls apart. Accounting practises will vary – but it is clear that a full and transparent review of the finances of the sector are essential to any final conclusion. Doubtless the industry representatives will co-ordinate the squeals and the accountants will become even more inventive - but there is no other housing sector where an owner occupier is obliged to pass 10% of usually their main asset to a third party, and especially where that asset has likely already been eroded through the deliberate negligences of the ultimate profiteer.Tuesday March 27th can be regarded as every park home owners last chance for decades to call for a full review of what is a usually applied 10% commission payable to wealthy and often exploitative land-owners and sometimes convicted fraudsters - and everyone who is able and mobile should register their intention to join the Park Home JUSTICE Campaign Rally on the day. Leaving it others, apathy and distant support will change nothing. The resources of the industry will amalgamate and we can and must make March 27th 2017 OUR day. Government will listen but what is certain is that it cannot hear the voices of those who do not attend.
TO REGISTER CONTACT email@example.com
IT WOULD APPEAR THAT OTHER LANDLORDS ARE JUMPING ON THE 10% BANDWAGON.
Comfortable ground floor flat with small terraced garden area situated between Victoria Station and
Monthly ground rent with undetermined annual increases No buildings
maintenance. Utility suppliers at landlord discretion. Stunning views over the
local tip. Vendors fee to landlord ( payable by purchaser upon completion )
£190,000. Further 10% fee to landlord when sold.
I wonder how many MP`s who need a London base would queue up at the estate agents ?
info supplied by Tony Turner.
After looking at the link below regarding
Alfie Best - the Big Fat Gypsy Fortune Star
One has to again wonder why
Have the audacity
to tell us that they need the 10% commission (from our equity) when we sell our homes
as it is in their words
A NECESSAREY INCOME STRAND
without which they would not be able to operate.
Take a look at the link below to see the Park Owners Life Style
and make up your own mind.
Surely this must be another nail in their coffin.
AND IT DEFINATELY SHOWS THAT
FIT AND PROPER
and an Independent TRANSPARENT Review of the 10% Commission
has got to be the next step by Government in dealing with all Park Owners.
My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune star Alfie Best attacked in car park with machete by his daughter's new husband
As you are all aware, Our JUSTICE Campaign
with the backup of your petition signatures is actively asking Government for an INDEPENDENT TRANSPARENT REVIEW OF
THE 10% COMMISSION CHARGE
with full sight of the Park Owners audited accounting.
Therefore as TRANSPARENCY is key to putting things right I am happy to post the following from Tony Turner (which has been vetted from information supplied) and hope that it will help all Park Home Owners.
SHOULD YOU BE ASKING FOR STATEMENTS OF ACCOUNTS ?
A Statement of account is a document issued by a supplier to its customer listing transactions over a given period, normally monthly. It should include details of invoices, payments received and any credits approved with a resultant balance payable by the customer.
Although clearly a matter of good practice, there is no specific written requirement for a site owner to provide them. Sec 22 of the Mobile Homes Act refers to a site owners obligations which include `the owner shall, if requested by the occupier, provide ( free of charge) documentary evidence in support and explanation of (i) any new pitch fee; (ii) any charges for gas, electricity, water, sewerage or other services payable by the occupier to the owner under the agreement; and (iii) any other charges, costs or expenses payable by the occupier to the owner under the agreement` Whilst this wording is not specific to the supply of Statement of Accounts, the clear and unambiguous implication of this term is that a site owner must be transparent in accounting.
CURRENT COURT APPLICATION
On this basis, an Application has been made to Plymouth County Court by residents at St Dominic Park, Cornwall, seeking an order that they be provided with accurate Statements by Jeffrey & Barbara Small, who trade under various names including JB & J Small Park Homes, Sovereign Park Home Developments and Sovereign Park Home Estates, Taunton. This follows a long-term dispute between residents and the site owners over monies discovered to be recorded as outstanding arrears but to which they had no lawful entitlement, even though without merit or legal basis, threats of legal proceedings against occupiers were made if their demands were not met.
A lack of financial transparency by a site owner can have have serious consequences. It can mean that any unscrupulous site owner can, without the residents knowledge, hold records of monies alleged to be owed and eventually make a demand for payment, either in seeking to counter a later dispute, at the point of the sale of a home, or to a beneficiary or an administrator of a deceased residents estate who will be unlikely to have the residents full financial records and therefore simply pay up. Such possible circumstances again confirms the need to instruct experienced Park Home solicitors in any home purchase or sale transaction.
TAKING THE INITIATIVE
If you have reason to suspect that your site owner is not entirely open in his financial dealings with you, then either collectively through your Residents Association or individually, you can write and request an up-to-date Statement of Account. If this is provided and shows monies owed but disputed you can then attempt to resolve any discrepancies. If they are not forthcoming or refused, then you probably need to be concerned and seek advice as to how best you can ensure that they are provided and although its orders are not enforceable other than at a County Court if not complied with, take proper advice as to whether a First Tier Tribunal Application may be your first step.
( NOTE. The direct Application to a County Court rather than to a Tribunal in the dispute between residents and Messrs Smalls is due to the circumstances of this particular case )
JBS Residents Action Alliance
CAN YOU BELIEVE YOUR SITE LICENCE CONDITIONS!!!!
A letter from our friends in Wales and a few photo's of DRAINAGE.
following a freedom of information request.
Denbighshire C.C. our licensing authority, have confirmed in writing that the wording in our site license (and presumably every other park ) " All drainage and sanitation provision must be in accordance with all current LEGISLATION and BRITISH and EUROPEAN STANDARDS " is not applicable to park home sites.
You may wish to include this little gem in your news letter, the wording in the license, is deceiving prospective purchasers, who are led to believe by their solicitors, that whilst building regulations do not cover mobile homes, they are safeguarded by site license conditions.
Jo seph Bowe,Morfa Ddu Park Residents Association.
Denbighshire C.C. our licensing authority, have confirmed in writing that the wording in our site license (and presumably every other park ) " All drainage and sanitation provision must be in accordance with all current LEGISLATION and BRITISH and EUROPEAN STANDARDS " is not applicable to park home sites.
You may wish to include this little gem in your news letter, the wording in the license, is deceiving prospective purchasers, who are led to believe by their solicitors, that whilst building regulations do not cover mobile homes, they are safeguarded by site license conditions.
PLEASE HELP THE RESIDENTS OF
AND OTHER RESIDENTS IN SURRY
by signing their Petition
STOP BUS CUTS
To all residents
Please take the time to sign this important petition regarding our bus service, our services are being gradually taken from us and your voice needs to be heard, please talk to your neighbours who may not have internet and ask them to sign. Even if you do not use the bus service this will affect you in some way if not now it will in the future. Just click on the link it will take just one minute of your time.
PODCAST - CORNWALL COUNCIL - PARK HOMES / Ref: made to Messrs SMALLS
Below is the podcast link so you can watch and listen to the proceedings. The subject commences c 1.51 minutes into the podcast and references are made to Messrs Smalls and the difficulties experienced by both the Council in addressing them and some of the problems experienced by their residents. We are informed that the issues remain ongoing.
HOW NOT TO LET THEM DELIVER A PARK HOME!!!
AND ALSO SPARE A THOUGHT OF SYMPATHY FOR THE POOR OWNERS
OF THIS NEW HOME
THAT IS SHOW BELOW AS THEY TRY TO DELIVER IT!!!
Messrs Smalls workmen in the process of delivering a new park home for a new customer at St Dominic Park.
Not having measured the entrance to the site, the only method was to ask a nearby nursery if they could use their land to drag it over a field and deposit on the park roadway.
Supplied by Tony Turner
As you will all be aware, our JUSTICE Campaign is fighting for an INDEPENDENT TRANSPARENT REVIEW OF THE 10% COMMISSION CHARGE THAT INCLUDES PROOF OF THE PARK OWNERS AUDITED ACCOUNTS.
Below is a letter from Tony Turner on the 10% subject. If you would like to add your thoughts on this subject, please send them to Sonia at the JUSTICE Campaign.
ALL LETTERS ARE VETTED BEFORE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO BE PUBLISHED.
KEEPING ALIVE THE ISSUE OF THE 10%
There are numerous anecdotal explanations as to the origins of the 10% sales commission, the most logical being that the owners of land upon which holiday caravans were sited saw frequent sales and simply decided to take a cut. At the time when the costs of a caravan was just a few hundred pounds, a commission to the land owner who helped the sales was no big deal - but so the practice has expanded to where we are today.
Since then, the expansion of residential homes, of retirement parks and the industry targeting of the retirement sector on the back of the property boom and the promoting the concept of downsizing, this nice little earner can now yield sales commissions of up to £25,000 and now that the site owner is removed from the sales transaction, this has morphed into nothing more than n unearned bonus, frequently added to the losses in the value of homes that are a consequence of site owner's negligences in park maintenance. Therefore, what was once a reasonable cut has since become an inequitable levy imposed upon home-owners assets, where the level of the commission permissible is such that the industry is yet again fighting tooth and nail for it to be retained.
As we all know, there are problems with it. The first is that it restricts mobility where after the commission, estate agents fees and moving fees this substantially hacks into residual equity. The second is that 10% of deceased home-owners assets do not go to the beneficiary of the estate and thus into the wider economy and the third is that any interpretations of the use of the word `commission` in any job or market , implies that the payment is based upon performance.
The question is how the balance of interests can be restored where the industry argument ( albeit so far unevidenced ) is that the survival of a site owners business is dependent upon the 10% and would need to be compensated for by increased pitch fees – And that of the home-owner who sees it as the legalised transfer of a significant part of their assets, frequently to site owners who have made their retirement a misery and simply use it to fund their personal and often vulgarly extravagant life-styles.
The answer is not yet clear, but what is certainly needed are sample reviews of site owners accounts by Government appointed independent auditors to assess the advocated dependency alongside all other revenue streams, ( both open and undeclared ) and the linking of a reasonable sales commission to a set performance criteria. Quite how such a formula could be be arrived at is a matter for debate, but I suspect that a reasonable commission payable to a site owner who properly manages his park would be regarded as acceptable and where such gearing would collaterally provide the unscrupulous site owner with some incentive to do so.
Whatever the substance of the conflict, a blanket 10% sales commission continues to be an unacceptable and inequitable imposition upon home-owners. There needs to be a full review and and if the industry wants to keep any sales commission, they should at least be required to earn it.
Our JUSTICE Campaign has been informed of
Important Information for Park Home Residents
CHARGES FOR PRIVATE SEWERAGE SERVICES
The members of our JUSTICE Campaign who regularly visit the pages of our campaign web site will be aware of what has been a six year hard fought battle between Tony Turner ( JBS Residents Action Alliance ) and his site owner over the costs imposed for private sewerage services.
The site owners had adopted close to the local water company charging formula ( in this case almost three times the costs of water consumed ) and asserted that they were lawfully entitled to do so. Tony Turner maintained that because the park owner is responsible for the maintenance of the park`s infrastructure, residents need only pay a contribution to the costs.
The real battle commenced in 2012, when the site owner ( before the advent of Park Home Tribunals ) issued legal proceedings against Tony at a County Court and succeeded in obtaining an order that he should pay the site owners demands. Tony responded by taking the dispute to the High Court, and later to the Court of Appeal but sadly he was unable to overturn the order due to Court Procedure Rules. However, in an extraordinary twist and having notified the site owner that yet further proceedings would be issued, THE SITE OWNER HAS FINALLY CONCEDED and reached an agreement that now applies to all residents at the site. The agreement reached is that residents will make advance payments of £12.50p per quarter per home ( there are 80 homes ) for the private sewerage services and at each anniversary, the site owner will provide his documented costs and if proven to be higher, the residents will pay the difference and if lower, any over-payments will be credited.
What finally proved Tony`s long-term position to be right was a later determination by the Upper Lands Chamber at Appeal where another site had decided to similarly question the site-owners use of a local water company's charging formula and although the site owner is understood to have made Application for a further Appeal to be heard mid 2017, the determination stands as follows:
“ That the liability of the residents in the payment of sewerage charges is limited to the respective proportions of the site owners costs, which include only the unit price of electricity required to operate the sewerage system at the rate paid by the site owner to their suppliers, the charges of third party contractors engaged by the site owner to empty and service the system and any fee paid to the Environment Agency in respect of it.` `In addition to the right to occupy a pitch, the occupiers receive the benefits of obligations by the owner to provide and maintain the facilities and services available to the pitch from time to time, which include the utilities themselves. Each of these is an example of a service which can only be provided at a cost to the owner, yet for which there is no separate agreement to charge and each must therefore be taken as included in the pitch fee”.
There are thousands of home-owners nationally who may also be similarly charged at or close to the local water company's charging rate. In many cases this came about when park owners were not unreasonably afforded the right to pass on the costs of sewerage services where sites were connected to the infrastructure of a local water company, but also where the pitch fees would be reduced accordingly, creating a reduced income stream from pitch fees, fully compensated for in the permitted passing on of the water company's charges to occupiers.
However, the less scrupulous saw an opportunity to mislead occupiers at sites where the sewerage system was privately operated and some home-owners were led to believe that this change was all inclusive and rather than proportionately reducing the pitch fees, simply added and applied the equivalent of the local water company charging formula.
At the time, many home-owners were less familiar with the regulations that applied and were forced to concede - or the breach of resident Agreements were otherwise implemented at the time of a sale when the site owner ( who could then be involved in the sales transaction ) unlawfully added these charges to Agreements where the service had previously been included within the pitch fees. I am informed that many site owners then combined water and sewerages charges to be applied at a daily rate so as to disguise the manipulation
This imposed arrangement suited the rogue owners well and I believe that it meant that they could charge the equivalent of the water company whose services were not engaged, minimise their costs in maintenances that were their own operational responsibility and secure a not insignificant profit from what was essentially a premeditated fraud. Since then, they have adopted the inaccurate position that this method of charging has become - which in turn is the accepted standard within the industry. Whilst this may have become the case between unscrupulous site owners, it did and does not mean that it is compliant with regulation.
If you are in similar position, then I am advised that you should first approach your site owner and set out what has been determined as the only costs that can be passed on and if the site owner declines to entertain the issue, then you should locate a solicitor who is familiar with park home law and ask his advice as to how best you can remedy the position and whether you are entitled to recover the monies that have previously been over-charged. Alternatively you could take the issue to your local CAB and ask them if they will refer the dispute to your local Trading Standards office.
Of course, what is illustrated is yet another aspect of why it was necessary to remove site owners from involvement in sales transactions that was fought for by our Park Home Owners JUSTICE Campaign. It also shows another income stream that is relevant to site owners assertions that the survival of their businesses has been dependent upon a 10% sales commission.
In addition, it confirms what can be achieved when residents form Residents Associations and become determined to confront abuses, over-charging and then follow them through. In reviewing the particular cases referred to, the work has already been done by Tony Turner and I am informed that the determination which confirms what charges a site owner may pass on can now be used by any other site which is being overcharged.
If you need further information you can contact the Leasehold Advisory Service between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday on 020 7832 2525 - or if you are a member, the Advisory Services IPHAS or NAPHR. You can also go to the following link which deals with the issue of administration charges.
I have spoken with Tony Turner (the man who has brought this about) and if you have a similar problem he will be quite happy for you to contact him direct by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I feel sure that he will be happy to offer his advice.
I hope this information will be of help to you all.
If you agree with the “MUSTS” below. Please send to your MP as directed at the bottom of this letter.
THE MUSTS OF THE 2017 REVIEW
As the fight against the rogue traders who pollute the residential park home sector continues, Government hopefully understands that those of us who bought into it are not third class citizens and that the outcome of the planned review must recognise that whilst we are ultimately classified as `caravan dwellers`, all of us have contributed to society in ways that entitle us to at least the same protections and justice afforded to virtually every other home-owner or tenant. The 2013 Act made good and genuine attempts and although it has quelled but not entirely eliminated sales blocking, in all other areas the objectives have failed. It is the symptom of the omissions and ambiguities contained within the laws and regulations that apply, that of the delegation of responsibilities to Local Authorities who can choose to ignore them, a police service that can fail to understand the impact upon the more vulnerable and a justice system that can be manipulated by the rogues.
There are obvious remedies. These include the clear definition of what the payable pitch fee includes and excludes, the requirement for a site owner to create a sinking fund for maintenances to be allocated to projects approved by the majority of occupiers, the requirement that all utility services are removed from the control of site-owners and where each home is independently metered, a Tribunal system that excludes representations by solicitors and counsel from all disputes that do not include allegations of criminal activity and which should be referred by a Tribunal to a higher Court and 1st Tier determinations that are as best nationally consistent in their interpretations of the laws and regulations that apply. And finally, a full and transparent review of sales commissions.
Consideration should also be given to the tearing up what has become an anomalous Act created largely by secondary legislation and to start from scratch - but if not, to at least implement more radical controls, where otherwise the sector will increasingly morph into what can be described as unopposed nationally organised exploitations and underlying crime.
The position can be summarised in the passing over at a County Court to one multiple site owner of a copy of the Mobile Homes Act with a request to read a particular clause and where his open response to the Court was that so far as he was concerned, it represented nothing more than pieces of paper stapled together, that he did not agree with its content and therefore had no intention of taking notice of it. Sadly, this orientation remains both widespread and openly tolerated.
I look forward to the 2017 review so long as it has the intention of restoring the market back to what it should always have been, that it treats the overtures of the industry with due scepticism and sees and listens to what is actually occurring. We may be a minority but we do not deserve to be relegated to a scrap-heap and nothing less than a full and comprehensive review will do.
If you agree with the above, please add your name address and the date, copy, paste and print this item and send it to: your local MP, asking that they forward it to Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government. You can find your MP at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/
by Tony Turner
I may well be labouring the point - but I continue to astounded at the number of buyers who commit to purchases of new or previously occupied homes without having instructed a park home specialist solicitor to oversee the transaction. Frankly, it is a reckless omission and one where if subsequent problems arise, they have only themselves to blame.
The residential Park Home sector nationally consists of hundreds of operators who know that the sustainability, growth and profitability of their businesses is dependent upon their reputations for complying with their obligations, however, as these pages frequently imply and as in any other market, there are traders whose will neglect or evade their responsibilities and prey upon those who have failed to take proper `buyer beware` precautions, usually to save what is likely to be small hundreds of pounds as a vital investment in their own protections. It is against this self created neglect that the rogue element thrive and continue to damage the market as a whole.
A part of the problem is that prospective buyers are of a generation who have historically placed trust in the seller of any product or service and unwitting fall or the rehearsed patter and false charms of the rogues. I see buyers who enter into verbal agreements, the terms of which were never intended to honoured and who allow themselves to be manipulated without written contracts, who pay large deposits and staged payments where there is no agreed schedule and who can end up either conceding to what was never agreed, or forced to become involved in costly disputes where the buyers resources are unlikely to match those of the unscrupulous site owner.
It is reasonable to say that a good proportion of disputes are those that emerge from both buyers and home-owners who have taken possession of what is likely to be their only substantial asset without have undertaken due diligence and in many cases not even properly read their Agreements or understood the terms or the implications of their commitments. In such cases, the instruction of a specialist solicitor at minimal cost would have avoided many of the problems before they arose and again in all frankness, many are the victims of their own negligences.
When finding a home, it is the buyer who holds the ace card. It is the buyer who is ultimately responsible for avoiding the joker and in also knowing the rules before putting cash on the table. I cannot sufficiently emphasise the need to engage a solicitor the moment you have made a decision to move forward and to also research the market so as to avoid those who may take advantage of your first-time experience. Not to do so is foolhardy and a potentially costly mistake
TRIUMPH FOR RESIDENTS WHO STUCK TO THEIR GUNS
Just a few lines to let you know that we have just won a tribunal case re: Pitch Fee Dispute.
In a nutshell our association was formed in 2004 when we found our pitch fee had been raised way above RPI with no justification or explanation. Initially nearly all residents joined the association agreeing that we would continue to pay our pitch fee in line with RPI and await their explanation - which of course never came. Then, the following year they did the same again; increasing the pitch fee above the RPI.
We took legal advice and were assured we were correct in what we were doing. Numerous letters were sent to the park owners asking for an explanation – which of course was never forthcoming – but most of us received THREATENING letters which continued over the years; so much so that a lot of residents gave in to their pitch fee demand and paid the alleged arrears.
Eventually it got down to about 15 of us who stuck to our guns; ignored their threats and in some cases blackmail. In some cases, when a home was sold the park owner arrived on the day of the move and would not allow the new residents to move in until the alleged arrears were paid; which of course the vendor did.
When the legislation changed we realised we could take them to tribunal. The remaining (by now 8 of us did just that.) We took advice from IPHAS and the tribunal office were very helpful.
It took a while to sort out all the paperwork (which we did) and submitted our case in May. The site owners had until early June to submit theirs. We were advised by the tribunal office that the park owners had engaged the services of a solicitor and requested more time to get their paperwork together.
To cut a long story short, last Saturday I was notified by the tribunal office that the site owners did not wish to contest the issue.
The judgement result is: that we have no arrears or interest to pay and we are correct in the pitch fee amount that we are paying. I just want to add that there was no fee for the tribunal services.
We are OVER THE MOON. Just sometimes things go right. I just feel sorry for those that gave in, but now of course this has put neighbour against neighbour as some are saying it is unfair that we are paying less than them.
But they had the same choice as we had so nothing can be done as they entered into an agreement with the park owners BUT WE STUCK TO OUR GUNS.