Reply To: Claimants in caravans


The nature of the agreements in cases like this are:

– the claimant pays a fee to the site owner (whether it is a local authority or some other owner). That fee entitles the claimant to occupy the plot and to put a caravan on it.

– the claimant also pays “rent” to a private company for the use of a mobile home that they have supplied. The mobile home will not become the claimant’s property under the terms of this agreement. The caravan supplier is not a party to any contract with the site owner – it is the claimant who rents the plot.

The agreement with the caravan supplier might be dressed up as an assured shorthold tenancy, but I cannot see how it is and I cannot see how the “rent” is really rent within the Reg 12(1) meaning. Rent proper in the housing sense means a payment in exchange for exclusive possession of land under a lease. In these cases, the caravan supplier is not granting possession of any land – they have no interest in the land at all. They are just hiring out an object or structure that the claimant chooses to place on the land. If he doesn’t pay, they can take the caravan back but they cannot throw the claimant off his plot.

So if it is not true “rent”, is the payment to the caravan supplier any other kind of eligible rent under any part of Reg 12(1)? I would be happy to accept that it is a payment under a licence to occupy the dwelling. Commissioner Jacobs hinted at that in CH/0318/2005 (the narrowboat case):

[quote:ace19bf3ac]6. The claimant lived on a narrow boat with his two daughters. He had a form of agreement that was called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, but the correct legal analysis is that he had a licence to occupy the boat.[/quote:ace19bf3ac].

There is one further problem in these cases: if the eligible rent for the site fee falls to be calculated as a rebate under Reg 12B, while the charge for the caravan itself falls to be calculated as rent allowance under Reg 12C, it is not clear that the Regs support a hybrid maximum HB calculated under two different Regs at the same time. I know the DWP takes the view that this is not possible, so only one of the two amounts can be allowed in their view; I know that there is at least one case currently with Tribunal where the LA will be pushing for leave to be granted, whoever wins at Tribunal level, so that this point of law can be cleared up by Commissioners a.s.a.p.