Camp Site rents

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  • #31686
    jowalraven
    Participant

    Morning everyone!

    In our authority area, we have lots of campsites where we pay ground rent. The ground rent is usually charged annually. However, because they are camp sites, claimants are not allowed to live there during the winter months (4 months in total).

    We normally work out the rent by dividing it by 52. However, we have just had a tribunals decision back stating that we should divide it by 8 (the months allowed to live there) multiplied by 12 and then divided by 52. The Tribunal has quote reg 80 (1) (2) (b).

    In this particular case, the rent was never specified as annual as such but it was due on the first of Febuary every year.

    What has confused us was that we had a similar case go to Tribunal a couple of years ago when the Tribunal confirmed that we were correct in dividing the annual rent by 52 even though for 4 months of the year the payment of rent did not result in the occupation of the home.

    Which is the right way to be doing this? Should we be taking into account the fact that the property cannot be occupied during the winter months?

    #88609
    Anonymous
    Guest

    The Tribunal’s method would be correct if you deal with it as rent-free-weeks case: to follow the Tribunal’s method and pay HB throughout the year would would end up with the claimants receiving half of their rent again on top of the amount they are liable to pay.

    The geek in me wanted to see what difference it really makes in the grand scheme of things, and here is what I ame up with.

    Say the rent is £1000 a year:

    – Tribunal’s method says 1000/8 x 12 / 52 = £28.85 a week payable over (I assume) the months of March to October inclusive. Those months contain 245 days, = 35 weeks exactly (this year they happen to be exact benefit weeks as well – in other years one of those 35 weeks consists of two part-weeks at the beginning and end, but it still adds up to 35). So max HB of 1009.75 is possible during the rent-paying period

    – Your method says 1000 / 52 = 19.23 a week. This year, the claimant will get 52 weeks and one day of HB (the odd day being payable as part of the first week of next year’s HB) = 1002.75 over the year. In a leap year, it would be 1005.50.

    So, because a lot of 31-day months fall in the rent-paying period, the claimant is better off by between £4 and £7 a year if the Tribunal’s method is used.

    [BTW this applies even if the claimant qualifies for less than maximum HB: in a tapered case, Reg 81(3)(b) calls for the applicable amount and income to be squeezed into a precisely calculated number of days so the advantage gained on the eligible rent side is not lost through the income adjustment. Exactly the same tapered contribution will be paid whether the claimant is means tested for 8 months or 12.]

    Do I get some kind of extra-sad Friday award for that?

    #88610
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    No.

    Peter 8) 😆

    #88611
    jowalraven
    Participant

    But on our method, they would not actually receive the 1002.75 over the year, as we don’t actually pay HB for when they don’t occupy the property as it doesn’t come under any temporary absence rules etc.

    No awards but I can give you the next two days off??

    #88612
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I think I agree with the tribunal judge: They can’t be charged rent for the 4 months they are not allowed to live there, so the ‘annual’ charge must be apportioned over the remaining 8 months.

    #88613
    Kevin D
    Participant

    In my view, it depends on what is stated in the agreement.

    If the agreement says the annual charge is [b:9b0e1bd253]in respect of[/b:9b0e1bd253] a period of one year with no reference to it being only to cover the period of occupancy, I think the Tribunal is wrong. I can’t see how occupancy can be introduced into the method of calculation under HBR 80(2)(b) – it is a separate matter.

    However, if the agreement states the charge is only for the period of allowed occupancy, I would agree with the Tribunal.

    #88614
    jowalraven
    Participant

    We have a lot of these camp sites and the agreements vary considerably. In that case, we have a letter from the site owner confirming the rent due for the “coming year”. As this rent is always due on 1 February 2010, we’ve taken it to cover the whole year regardless of occupancy

    #88615
    Kevin D
    Participant

    [quote:ddf13a8efb=”jowalraven”]…we have a letter from the site owner confirming the rent due for the “coming year”….we’ve taken it to cover the whole year regardless of occupancy[/quote:ddf13a8efb]

    On the basis of that information, my view is it does indeed cover 12 months, not just the allowable period of occupancy. HBR 80(2)(b) makes no reference to occupancy unlike, for example, HBR 80(3)(a).

    I’d be happy to toddle off to the UT with this (based on the info so far) and, amongst other matters, argue that if the legislator had intended occupancy to be linked to HBR 80(2)(b), it would be stated. As occupancy is stated in HBR 80(3)(a), but not in 80(2)(b), it is reasonable to suggest the difference was intentional and, therefore, the Tribunal was wrong to import the concept of occupancy into the method of calculating the separate concept of liability under 80(2)(b).

    There is a legal principle that may have some bearing: “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” – to include one thing is to exclude another. Also see [b:ddf13a8efb]R v LB Waltham Forest ex parte Holder (1996) 29 HLR 71[/b:ddf13a8efb] (your legal section should be able to locate it) where the inclusion of “x” in one part of a regulation was found to mean the exclusion of “x” from another part of the same regulation must have been intended.

    #88616
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I have been thinking about this, and I was wondering: if the payment is for the whole year, what does the claimant get for his money during the winter months? If he has entered into a contract to pay the site owner an amount of money each year, he is expecting to gain some rights in return.

    For eight months, the claimant has the right to place a static caravan on the park and live in it. What rights does he have in the winter? Can he visit the caravan during the day? Is the site even accessible at all?
    Perhaps the deal is, by implication, one in which the plot holders are charged for the months during which they occupy and are offered free storage over the winter on the understanding that they will come back the following season. The written agreement may be silent about that, but it does not mean that an understanding along those lines is not part of the contract. What would happen, I wonder, if the claimant decided to take his caravan off the site for the winter: would he get a four-month refund? If not, that suggests that the agreement is intended to charge rent for the open months.

    #88617
    Anonymous
    Guest

    When I was in student accomodation, my rent was £40 per week from September – June, then £20 per week for unoccupied use over the Summer holiday if I wanted to keep my stuff there. But that was specifically written into the tenancy agreement.

    It certainly does not help that the terms of this tenancy are so vague. As Peter suggested, maybe the specific terms of the tenancy were agreed verbally between claimant and landlord? Did the claimant give any evidence at the hearing regarding his understanding of the terms of the arrangement?

    The tenancy may say £1000 per year, but the actual breakdown based on a mutual understanding between the involved parties could be £100 per month from March – October, then £50 per month from November – February based on unoccupied use only.

    #88618
    jowalraven
    Participant

    Unfortunately, this was a paper hearing. The appellant’s grounds for appeal was that the rent should be divided over the period of occupation rather than the whole year. However, we looked at the proof of rent previously provided which was the letter about the rent for the “coming year”.

    #88619
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Maybe you could request a set-aside on the grounds that the terms of the rental arrangement were not fully explored and suggest an oral hearing for next time?

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