Advice: Pitch Fee Increases
It won’t be long until pitch fee reviews are being undertaken and being sent out to caravan and lodge owners across the UK. It’s important to make sure that you’re being treated fairly and to check that any increase that’s being proposed is in accordance with your contract or agreement.
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?
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.