Pitch Fee Increase at Static Holiday Caravan Parks.
Our members continue to see above inflation increases in their pitch fees and this article gives some guidance about how pitch fee increase can be approached.
Is your pitch fee controlled by a contract term?
If you have a written agreement or contract, it's important to establish whether pitch fee increase is a factor of it. Most static holiday caravan agreements contain reference to how the pitch fee will increase annually. It's important that any increase criteria are clear and concise and written in plain language.
The following extract is taken from the BH&HPA & NCC Model Licence Agreement (MLA) and gives an indication to the sort of terms you might encounter:
We will review the Pitch Fee having regard to the following criteria:
8.4.1 Any charges which are not within our control such as rates, water charges and other charges paid to third parties, including those caused by a change in the law or rates of taxation.
8.4.3 Sums spent by us on the Park and/or its facilities for the benefit of the owners of caravans.
8.4.4 Changes in our operating costs including those brought about by changes in the law or regulatory change and by taxation.
8.4.5 Market rates for pitch fees.
Whilst the MLA has quite a broad scope for pitch fee increase, there are some plus points – sums spent on the park must be for the ‘benefit of caravan owners’ and unlike its predecessor this MLA doesn’t mention ‘any other relevant factor’ has been removed. ‘Market rates for pitch fees’ remains a contentious term – how can this ever be fair?
Many written agreements reference above inflation or RPI (Retail Prices Index) increases as needing explanation and justification. If your pitch fee increase is above either then it's important that you ask your park owner how the revision has been arrived at. To find out what the current rate of inflation or RPI is check here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10612209
To establish how or why your pitch fee has gone up, it's important to put your request in writing. The approach can be light, and conversational, but it's vital that the request is documented. You can pop your park owner an email or write them a letter - whichever best fits your own circumstances.
A really common reason given for increase is redevelopment of the park and/or the installation of new facilities such as a pool or gym. Once again, it comes down to whether your contract mentions such items but it's important to note that in most circumstances agreement terms cover sums actually spent on the park or its facilities.
If you haven't got a written agreement, or your licence is 'annually renewable' it's still advisable to ask the question, it's just worth bearing in mind that your park owner has less of an obligation to respond.
Plan of Action!
- Consult your contract.
Make sure that if you’ve got a contract and that you’ve checked to see if the item of enquiry is covered – or if there is a complaints procedure that should be followed.
- Contact your park management.
All items of enquiry that we receive would benefit from being presented to the relevant party prior to our involvement, we feel that putting pen to paper is always the best approach.
- Keep copies of everything!
Make sure that you keep copies of anything that you send to your park regarding the enquiry. If you're a NACO member, make sure that anything you send gets sent to us in order that we can keep it on file should we need to intervene or follow-up.
Remember, NACO members have access to our team of specialist advisers who can help with the analysis of your contract and construction of correspondence. We have a range of template letters to assist with any approach to your park management. Join today or call us on 01255 820 321 to find out more...