The day after the park home owners demonstration at Westminster, they were defeated in the upper property tribunal as site owner Wyldecrest overturned a decision that it had to provide activist Tony Turner with a statement of account.
“A forward step backwards,” was how he described it. “It means that park home residents have little to no protection with regard to financial transparency.”
Earlier Mr Turner had successfully persuaded the first tier tribunal that Wyldecrest was obliged to supply him with details of all of the sums due from him since 1 January 2019 and all the payments he had made, including the payment date and the name of the account to which each payment was credited.
Mr Turner had made the application under section 4 of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 against Wyldecrest Park (Management) Limited, which is the largest owner and operator in the UK of residential park homes sites, owning 98 sites which accommodate about 10,000 residents on approximately 6,100 pitches.
Wyldecrest’s directors are Alfred Best and David Sunderland, and it is owned by Best Holdings Group Limited which had net assets of £236 million in 2021.
The upper tribunal noted that Mr Turner describes himself as “an active campaigner for park home residents’ rights”, and “It is perhaps not surprising that Mr Turner and Wyldecrest do not always see eye to eye, nor that their disagreements sometimes have to be resolved by tribunals (for a recent example, see Wyldecrest Parks (Management) Ltd v Turner  UKUT 40 (LC)).”
The upper tribunal, under Martin Rodger KC, summarised Mr Turner’s argument:
“First, Mr Turner’s own inquiries suggested that occupiers of some of Wyldecrest’s other parks were overcharged for utilities and other services, and he now wished to establish whether he had overpaid at any time.
“Secondly, Mr Turner considered that in the event of a future dispute he would wish to be able to trace payments made using his own bank records and would therefore need to know the account to which his payments had been credited.
“Thirdly, he wished to guard against the possibility that after his death or incapacity it might be suggested to his family that arrears existed of which he had not previously been made aware and which would have to be discharged before his home could be sold.
“Finally, Mr Turner wished to clarify whether the FTT had jurisdiction to make the order he requested.”
Wyldecrest responded that there was no uncertainty over what Mr Turner was obliged to pay since pitch fee reviews were required to commence by notice given in a prescribed form “and because the agreement included an implied term entitling Mr Turner to request documentary evidence of the new pitch fee and all charges for services”.
Wyldecrest, which like Mr Turner was not legally represented, also said that the FTT had no jurisdiction to entertain the application, because it did not raise any question under the 1983 Act or under the agreement.
Martin Rodger continued: “If Mr Turner is correct that the imbalance between site owners and occupiers, the vulnerability of many of them, and the opportunity for abuse which exists in the relationship between owner and occupier, means that a term for the provision of statements of account is essential for the proper working of the agreement, it is surprising that Parliament did not include it as one of the statutory implied terms.
“No such implied term is found in a residential tenancy agreement (which creates a similar sort of relationship), nor is it invariably, or even usually incorporated by express agreement.
“The fact that tens of thousands of pitches on protected sites are occupied without the suggested term yet without apparent difficulty makes it impossible to accept that business efficacy requires that it be implied.
“… the FTT did not have jurisdiction in this case to order Wyldecrest to provide a statement of account and I set aside its decision and dismiss Mr Turner’s application.”
The full ruling can be read here