Check the Agreement
To understand a park homeowner’s responsibility relating to utility charges the answer will usually be contained in the written agreement between the park home owner and site owner.
The written agreement will include the express terms, which generally outline whether the pitch fee (sometimes referred to as ground rent) includes utility charges. The express terms may also outline which utility charges are provided at an additional cost to the pitch fee.
The implied terms are terms that are applied by the Mobile Homes Act 1983 and they cannot be excluded or waived. If there is a conflict between an express term and implied term in the written agreement, it will be the implied term which would apply.
It is important to read these terms carefully and if you do not understand these, you may wish to obtain legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in park homes law.
How to find out information on utilities?
The implied terms provided by the Mobile Homes Act 1983 states that the site owner must, if requested by the park home owner, provide (free of charge) an explanation of any utility charge. This may include gas, electricity, water, sewerage or other services payable by the occupier to the owner under the agreement.
There are limitations that are imposed by the law on utility charges and below will go through the main charges that apply on park home sites.
Electricity & Gas
The law imposes a limit on the maximum price of which gas and electricity can be re-sold by a site owner. These are regulated by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) by the Gas Act 1986 and the Electricity Act 1989.
These laws ensure that the electricity and gas charges must be the same price as that paid by the site owner who is re-selling it, including the standing charges. This prevents the site owner from profiting from any utility distribution.
The Water Resale Order 2006 regulates the amount charged by site owners to their residents for water. The Economic Regulator of the Water Sector in England and Wales (Ofwat) provides a useful guide on this matter. If the supply is metered, the park home owner is only required to pay for a measured amount consumed plus an amount representing a standing charge paid by the re-seller divided by the number of purchasers supplied.
Where the site owner’s supply is not metered, park home residents may be charged for the average usage of water supply by the relevant water authority, as published from time to time by Ofwat. If the site owner does not provide such a justification of the calculation of the water charges within 28 days of a written request, the park home resident’s liability is further reduced to half of the average bill.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a hydrocarbon gas that exists in a liquefied form. LPG is a colourless, low carbon and a highly efficient fuel. LPG boils at a low temperature and to avoid it evaporating due to its low boiling point, it is typically stored in pressurised steel vessels such as gas bottles or bulk LPG tanks.
Although there is no specific legislation that governs LPG, case law suggests that the cost of LPG delivered to pitches, must be at the same unit price paid by the site owner supplier. As above, the LPG calculations by the site owner must be transparent and must be provided to the homeowner on request free of charge.