First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber
Updated Cases 02/01/2016
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A Guide to the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (RPTS)
The RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TRIBUNAL SERVICE (RPTS) has recently had a name change and is now called the FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL PROPERTY CHAMBER and was incorporated into the Mobile Homes Act 1983 on 30th May 2011. Mobile Home Residents and Park Owners can now apply to the RPTS to settle most disputes which have arisen since that date. Disputes prior to that date will not be eligible to apply and would require to be solved between both parties or in County Court.
What is the purpose of this Guidance?
This guidance explains the procedures that will be followed by a RPT ("the tribunal") when dealing with applications under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 ("The Act"). Those applications deal with the agreement under which a person ("the occupier") is entitled, under an agreement with the site owner ("the owner"), to station a park home on land forming part of a protected site and to occupy the home as his or her only or main residence ("an agreement"). The term 'park home is used here for a home referred to and defined in the Mobile Homes Act 1983 as a 'mobile home'.
What is a hearing?
A 'Hearing' is where the tribunal convenes at a particular time and place for the purpose of enabling the parties in dispute to put their respective cases to the Tribunal. A party can speak themselves or be represented by someone else, professionally qualified or not. This could be a relative or friend for example. Parties should produce documentation in advance of any hearing.
If a hearing is held, will ordinary court proceedings be followed?
NO. Tribunals such as the RPT are decision making bodies set up by Parliament to enable certain types of disagreements to be dealt with speedily in a way that avoids the formality and costs that surround ordinary court proceedings.Hearings are usually held in a convenient local building which may be the Tribunal office where appropriate.
Hearings are open to the public, although usually only the parties, their representatives and their witnesses, also the Tribunal and the Case Officer will be present. The proceedings are orderly but informal. The applicant is asked to put their case. They can be questioned by the other party who can then put their case and be questioned in turn. The purpose of the proceedings is to enable both parties to put their case to the Tribunal in their own words or through someone else acting on their behalf. The Chairman will seek to ensure that no one is disadvantaged by not being represented. He or she will make sure both parties fully understands what the other party is saying. The Tribunal may ask questions of a party present to make sure all relevant facts are clear.
What happens if one or both parties do not attend?
The Tribunal may go ahead and make a decision even if one or both parties do not attend if it is satisfied that proper notice of the hearing has been given.
Can a hearing be postponed or adjourned by the Tribunal?
Yes. A party has the right to ask the Tribunal to postpone or adjourn a hearing and indeed the Tribunal might decide to do this of its own accord. However, it will be done only if there is a compelling reason and the Tribunal considers that no party is unfairly affected.
In the case of a proposed sale or gift of the home where the site owner's approval has been withheld, and the Tribunal is satisfied that the exceptional circumstances set out in the tribunal procedures regulations exist, the Tribunal must order an oral hearing to consider the application as a matter of urgent under the accelerated procedures.
Applications to the Tribunal - Application Form Numbers.
PH 1/ An application made by an occupier for an Order requiring the Site owner to give him/her a Written Statement as to the Terms of the Agreement to occupy as required by the Act.
*PH 2/ (1) An Application by either party to an Agreement for an Order that there shall be Implied into the Agreement Terms concerning matters mentioned in Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Act.
*PH 2/ (2)(A) An Application varying or deleting an Express Term of the Agreement.
*PH 2/ (2)(B) Providing for an Express Term that would otherwise be unenforceable.
*PH 3/ An Application under section 4 of the Act by either party in relation to any matter under the Act or Agreement.
PH 4/ An Application by a Site Owner to Terminate an Agreement as the home is having a detrimental effect on the Amenity of the Site.
NOTE Generally only the Court can determine questions relating to the Termination of Agreements, but in the case above the Tribunal determines the preliminary issue of the effect of the Home on the Site.
PH 5/ An application for the approval of a Purchaser of a Home and Assignment of the Agreement.
PH 6/ An application for approval of a Donee for the purpose of a Gift of the Home.
*PH 7/ An Application by the Site Owner for approval of a Temporary Relocation of a Home to another Pitch.
PH 8/ An application for the Home to be returned to it's original Pitch following repairs or replacement.
PH 9/ An Application by the Park Owner to determine a Pitch Fee Review.
PH 10/ An application by the Park Owner that Proposed Improvements be taken into account in the Pitch Fee.
*PH11/ An Application for recognition of a Residents Association.
PH12/ An Application by the Park Owner for a Termination Order for:
1/ Occupier is in breach of an Agreement
2/ Occupier not using Home as main residence
3/ The Home is having a detrimental effect on the Site.
NOTE That application 12 only applies where there is a pre-dispute arbitrations agreement that covers the question to be decided. This means the Tribunal will determine the matter irrespective of the arbitration agreement.
The above PH numbers are the relevant Form applicable to the type of Application.
These forms are available from the Tribunal Regional Office in your area.
The numbers marked * indicates there is a charge for that particular Application, the current rate being £150.00. More information on the fee payable and if you are entitled to a Wavier on the fee can be obtained from your local RPT Area Office.
More information can be found on the Government website. Click here to be taken to the RPTS Contacts page.
Assistance to Parties.
If a Participant in proceedings informs the Tribunal that he/she cannot read, write, speak, understand English, blind or partially sighted or without hearing or speech, the Tribunal must make provision free of charge, supply the necessary assistance (including Braille) for him/her to participate effectively in the proceedings.
There are two types of Members. The Chairman who is appointed by the Lord Chancellor, will normally be a Lawyer or Surveyor who will write up the Tribunals decision. Other Members, who may be Lawyers or other professional persons. The Tribunal usually has three Members, occasionally two, or the Chairman may sit alone when dealing with procedural matters.
An application must be made on the appropriate Form.
Fees are payable in some cases. These are indicated by the asterisk on the Form. I.e. *PH 2/.
Wavier of Fees.
A Fee will not be payable where the Applicant of Partner is in receipt of the following Benefits.
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
- Working Credit (where that Credit includes Disability elements or a Guarantee Credit under the State Pensions Credit Act 2002)
Reimbursement of Fees.
The Tribunal may order any party to an Application to Reimburse any other Party to the extent of the whole or part of any Fee paid by the other Party.
Procedure Following an Application.
The Case Officer will write to the Applicant acknowledging Receipt of the document and send a copy to the Respondent, who must send a written receipt of the Documents to the Tribunal and indicate whether or not they intend to oppose the Application.
The Case Officer will then send all parties and interested persons of whom it has been notified a copy of the Application and directions for a Hearing together with a Hearing Date.
What are Directions?
Directions are the Orders made by the Tribunal which require the Parties to take specific steps to ensure all the necessary information about the Application is provided for the Tribunal by all Parties.
Unless a Party states they require a Hearing, the Chairman may decide the case is suitable for determination on the basis of the Evidence without an Oral Hearing and may issue further directions.
Alternatively the Chairman may direct there should be a Case Management Conference (CMC). This is a short Hearing conducted by the Chairman which Parties should attend.
It is a relatively Informal hearing to try to identify the issues in the Case which can be resolved by agreement.
What is a Preliminary Hearing?
A Preliminary Hearing may be arranged where there is some doubt as to the validity of the Application or an issue as to whether the Tribunal has Jurisdiction to deal with the Application.
In such cases the Parties will be notified and a Hearing arranged.
Is an Expert Necessary?
This will depend on the type of Case. Expert Evidence is sometimes required but not always.
If Expert Evidence is required, then the Expert will be asked to produce a Report which sets out the Evidence that they will give at the Hearing of the Application. If both Parties have Experts on a particular issue they may be asked to exchange their Reports and may be asked to meet to see if there are any aspects of the matter which may be agreed upon.
The Decision of the Tribunal.
The Tribunal will make it's decision as soon as possible after the Conclusion of Proceedings including any Hearing. In some Cases the Tribunal will give it's decision Orally following a Hearing.
In most Cases the decision will be in writing within the following weeks.
However in a Case, the Case Officer will write to the Parties and enclose the Written Decision.
Are the basics for Residents on the procedures for using the Tribunal Service.
NAPHR have endeavoured to put the procedures into simple language for you.
The Laws and Regulations are quite complex.
However there is more information available from the Tribunal Helpline on 0845 6001378 or alternatively call NAPHR.
The addresses and telephone numbers of the Regional RPTS Offices can be found by clicking here.