John Romans Parks Homes Limited v Hancock CH1/19UM/PHC/2017/0002
This was a First-tier Tribunal Property Chamber case. In August 2003 Mr and Mrs Hancock sold their bungalow and purchased their mobile home at the Morn Gate Park Site in Dorchester. John Romans Limited purchased the park from A & M Properties Limited in May 2015. John Romans Limited sought to evict Mr and Mrs Hancock from the park simply by serving them with notice to leave.
Section 1 (1) of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (MHA) states that the Act will apply to any agreement under which a person is entitled:- (a) to station a mobile home on land forming part of a protected site; and (b) to occupy the mobile home as his only or main residence. The dispute centred on whether the land formed part of a protected site, and whether the agreement allowed Mr and Mrs Hancock to occupy the mobile home as their only or main residence. The Court of Appeal in Murphy – v – Wyatt  1 WLR 2129 established that an occupier of the mobile home would only have the benefit of the MHA 1983 if the requirements of Section 1 (1) were met at the inception of the agreement.
Subsequently a Certificate of Lawful Use of Development was obtained in January 2015 enabling the applicant to run the site as a residential park. Mr Romans had required A & M to obtain this Certificate before his company purchased the park.
The opening part of MHA 1983 Section 1 (2) provides the overarching definition of a protected site. There is a qualification to the overarching definition where it is stated that it does not apply to land to which the relevant planning permission or site licence is expressed to be for holiday use only or otherwise so expressed or subject to condition preventing occupation of caravans during specific parts of the year.
The Tribunal’s preliminary position was that a site with planning permission and/or a licence for a mixed residential and holiday use (as this site was) is not caught by that qualification and is, therefore, a protected site.
The Tribunal decided that the correct approach is to start with the question of exclusion of holiday only sites and the next step is then to consider whether the terms of the planning permission and site licence distinguish between different parts of the Park and, if so, whether “it is both natural and necessary to treat the Park as divided into two or more parts for the purposes of identifying a protected site” (para 63).
The Tribunal found that:- (i) the planning permission and the site licence for the Park were not restricted to holiday use or otherwise so expressed or subject to a condition to the like effect; (ii) the relevant planning permission and site licence did not designate the Park into separate holiday and residential sectors; (iii) it was not natural and necessary to divide the Park into two or more parks to identify a protected site.
The Tribunal therefore concluded that the Park in its entirety was a protected site and that the plot occupied by Mr and Mrs Hancock was land forming part of a protected site.
The Tribunal also concluded that Mr and Mrs Hancock occupied the mobile home as their only or main residence. Accordingly the Tribunal determined that the provisions of the MHA 1983 applied to the agreement.
This is an extremely important decision albeit that Mr and Mrs Hancock were not Gypsies or Travellers. It is an extremely important judgment for Gypsies and Travellers who live on mixed holiday/residential use sites.
Solicitor for Mr and Mrs Hancock was Peter Johnson of Laceys Solicitors in Poole.