It’s not very often a case involving a mobile home park goes to the Court of Appeal but when it does, it is cause for excitement! Well, not always, but the recent case of Brian Telchadder v Wickland (Holdings) Limited, gives helpful guidance about what a notice of breach under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (as amended) (the Act) should say and the considerations which a Court should take into account when deciding if it is reasonable in the circumstances to terminate such an agreement.
In the first of this three part article, Kirstie Apps, an experienced holiday and residential parks solicitor, will examine the facts of the case, and the decision at first instance. The second part will deal with the grounds of appeal and the third will focus on the implications of the decision and what park owners should remember when contemplating whether to bring legal proceedings for termination and possession.
The case involved Mr Telchadder, who was a resident on a mobile home park and owned his own mobile home. He entered into an agreement under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (as amended) with the owners on 1 June 2006 and was given a written statement setting out the terms and conditions of the agreement which included park rules. The express terms of the agreement and the park rules, amongst other things, required Mr Telchadder to:
- not cause a nuisance and annoyance
- banned the carrying of offensive weapons on site
- ensure that residents could “live together peacefully in unspoilt surroundings” and
- promote a “happy community”.
Not long after Mr Telchadder entered into the agreement, the park owners had cause to contact him about his behaviour, related to complaints about loud music – this was followed by a warning letter in July 2006 . He was again warned regarding his behaviour by a letter from the park owner dated 15 August 2006. On this particular occasion, Mr Telchadder had dressed up in camouflage and military combat clothing, wearing a mask and made unwanted approaches to residents causing them alarm and distress. He was told that his actions were not acceptable and that should he ignore the letter, the park owner would be left with no alternative but to apply to the Court to have the agreement under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (as amended) terminated. More letters were sent on 22 June 2007 and 29 April 2008 about loud music and his behaviour towards other residents. There were further incidents in July 2009 including allegations of threats to kill a particular resident.
In October 2009 there was another incident including the same resident who had alleged he had been threatened by Mr Telchadder. In February 2010 Mr Telchadder pleaded guilty to charges of harassment against two elderly residents of the Park. In July 2009, there were further incidents, this time against the park owners, and again in July 2010 and more in April 2011 against residents.
Outcome at first instance
Proceedings for permission to terminate the agreement against Mr Telchadder were commenced in September 2009 following the incidents in July 2009.
Mr Telchadder defended the proceedings and denied all allegations and the Judge at first instance had to decide from hearing the evidence which of the allegations were true. The Judge heard evidence that Mr Telchadder was labouring under a disability which he found to be the case and accepted arguments that his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a home) were relevant as were the implications on Mr Telchadder of an adverse decision (i.e. he would lose a valuable asset and siting it elsewhere was unrealistic).
The Judge at first instance found that the majority of the allegations had been proven, particularly those matters documented in the letter dated 15 August 2006 and the incidents in July 2009.
The Judge found in favour of the park owner and granted permission to terminate the agreement and possession of the pitch.
Mr Telchadder appealed.
The next instalment will be published on Wednesday 15 August.