In the recent decision of Greenacres Park Residents Association -v- Country Parks Limited the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property) (“the Tribunal”) provided some very useful guidance on Qualifying Residents Associations (“QRAs”). The decision was made following an Application to the Tribunal by the Greenacres Park Residents Associations (“GPRA”) for an Order recognising GPRA as a QRA.
The GPRA was formed in early 2014 at which point 47 homeowners were members of the QRA, representing around 73% of the homes on the Park. The GPRA therefore exceeded the statutory requirement for the membership of a QRA to be made up of at least 50% of all residents who own homes on the Park. As a result GPRA wrote to Country Parks Limited, as required under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (“the Act”), to seek formal recognition of the QRA. This letter included a copy of the constitution for the GPRA which made reference to paragraph 28 (1)(g) of Schedule 1, Part 1, Chapter 2 of the Act which states “with the exception of administrative decisions taken by the chairman, secretary and treasurer acting in their official capacities, decisions are taken by voting and there is only one vote per mobile home” (“the Statutory Requirement”). Country Parks Limited responded formally recognising the GPRA as a QRA.
However in late 2014 Country Parks Limited wrote to GPRA stating that it no longer met the qualifying criteria in the Act and that it was, as a result, no longer recognising it as a QRA. This letter seemed to have arisen as a result of a disagreement between the GPRA and Country Parks Limited as to the interpretation of the Statutory Requirement for the decisions of the QRA to be taken by way of a vote. Practically speaking the implication of the GPRA no longer being formally recognised as a QRA was that the site owner was no longer required to consult with the GPRA on matters which related to the management and operation of the Park to include any proposed improvements to the Park.
The Tribunal was therefore tasked with determining the following three issues:
- Was it permissible for recognition of a QRA to be withdrawn?
The Tribunal noted that the Act was silent on whether or not it was permissible to withdraw recognition of a QRA. Although no definitive view was provided, the Tribunal proceeded on the basis that recognition of a QRA may be withdrawn if for example it no longer met the requirements of the Act.
- What the meaning of the Statutory Requirement is in practice?
The Tribunal recognised that in reaching a decision on this point it was required to balance the role of the QRA in representing its members and the wording in the Act. The Tribunal distinguished between a QRA representing a single member who requests that an issue be raised with the site owner and on the other hand raising an issue that impacts on all residents on the Park.
The Tribunal determined that raising an issue on behalf of one (or a small number of members of the QRA where not all of the members are affected) was an administrative decision. The Tribunal gave the example of overhanging branches which would likely affect only a small number of members as opposed to the QRA as a whole. However, the Tribunal stated that if a QRA wished to request a change that would impact upon all residents or the operation of the site as a whole that would not be an administrative decision and would require a vote.
- Should the GPRA be formal recognised as a QRA?
The Tribunal ordered that the GPRA be formally recognised as a QRA subject to an amendment to their constitution to ensure that the wording of the Statutory Requirement was re-inserted into the constitution.
The above decision highlights the important role that QRAs can play on a Park and the need for co-operation between site owners and QRAs in order to maintain community cohesion on a Park.