Ask a Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!
My husband and I have lived on a holiday site in a log cabin near Pocklington which is in the East Riding of Yorkshire since 2006. We were one of the first people to live on the site. The owner of the site stated that if we could give one of my son's addresses, as a permanent address then I would not pay council tax. He also stated that the site had to close for a period of 6 weeks, and we agreed to this. We moved in in January 2006 and went to Florida for a 2 weeks holiday. When we got back he told us the good news that the site was only to be closed for a 2 week period in January in future, and that is what has happened for a number of years where people have gone on holiday and the site has closed down. Last year he sent everyone a letter saying for a one-off payment (not sure of the amount.....hundreds of pounds, I have the receipt at home, but I am at the office) we would be able to use the site over a 12 month period. so that is what I did, but not everybody on the site were as foolish as me. But this is not why I am writing, I am just trying to put you in the picture. Last year we received a letter from the council saying were were in breach of the planning consent, and that we were using it as a permanent site and not a holiday one. The council had a meeting with some residents and told them not to worry something could be sorted out, but we have now received another letter reconfirming their intention to take action i.e remove us from the site if we are in breach. Which of course I am together with 40 or more families who live on the site. My husband and I are in our 60's and some are much older, and some pay council tax and others do not. I would pay it if I were allowed to stay, that has never been an issue, I did not know I was doing any wrong as the owner told us to do it this way. No doubt he will now dispute that but there are a lot of people who feel the same way. So my question really is:- "as I have lived there since 2006 can I be removed from the site, and if so why has it taken so long for this issue to come about"? I also need to know if I would have to pay council tax for the past years or is that 'statute of limitation'? Looking forward to your response
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Am I correct when all you want to know is your Council Tax position beyond 6 years and whether they can remove you?
Yes I love where I live but because I feel they can throw us off the site as we would need to get a permanent address it is very worrying, and my husband is not sleeping very well. It is the uncertainty of not knowing. I am seriously looking at either renting somewhere to live and then renting my property out to pay for it, or buying somewhere else to live permanently, but I am unsure how much I would get for my property, especially as a lot more people may want to leave the site now?
If the owner or you are in breach of planning then sadly they can get an injunction to have you removed during the closed period.
This is because there would be a breach of planning law and they can get an enforcement notice. Further they can seek an injunction from the county court.
If the County Court is satisfied and grants an injunction, if you disobey it, that is contempt of Court which you can be warned, fined or sent to prison
As for the arrears then yes, any demand is limited to 6 years as per the Limitation Act 1980
So they couldn't go back beyond 6 years
It is not the 'closed period' I am worried about, it is permanently
Well they can't make you leave permanently - it can ONLY be for the closed period, ie the breached period
You can defend the whole period. You may just have to live in a B&B for some weeks.
I am sorry if this is not the answer you want and certainly not the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
So although it is a holiday site, I can still live on it 50 weeks of the year?
Yes or whatever the planning permission is
I thought it was usually 11 months of the year
Can I clarify anything else for you?
Sorry Alex I may sound a bit thick, but how can the council send us an injunction to stay off the site, as it is not a residential site and only a holiday home if the owner has planning permission for a holiday site, and he says its open 12 months of the year. Sorry if this sounds unclear, but if we do not need to leave our home by law, then I will cancel selling up and stop trying to find somewhere permanent?
But you are in breach of planning permission. Therefore they can take enforcement action
You have no right to stay for 12 months a year because there is no permission for that
If there was you would be fine
Therefore the Council can seek a County Court injunction to prevent you from remaining there for the closed period
You have breached planning permission or exceeded its permission and therefore can be stoped
Otherwise there would be no need for planning permission, people could simply do as they pleased
So even though the owner misled people into thinking it was open for 12 months, he is not responsible and we have no 'come-back' on him?
Well that is a different question. You would be able to sue him for breach of contract. But that does not mean you can simply stay for 12 months a year.
You would be able to sue him for the 2 weeks you had to stay in a B&B
And losses flowing from that.
But as it stands you have exceeded planning permission
Is there no time restriction on how long I have lived there i.e why has the council waited for so long before pursuing me?
In terms of the breach no
Its when they find out, it can be weeks, months, years
But the fact remains there is a breach
I am sorry
Well thanks you have been very helpful and honest and I'm grateful for your time!
Thank you. Can I help with anything else today?
We normally pay our Ground rent on 1st February each year in advance, but if I have not moved out by then whilst looking elsewhere am I obliged to pay for the next 12 months rent.
Yes you are. But that does not stop you suing for breach of contract. You can't withhold payments
Does this answer the question for you today?
If I have moved out will I still have to pay?
If you no longer own the plot then no
If its just for the 2 weeks then yes
We never owned the plot, just the cabin, and If I move out permanently into other accommodation whilst trying to sell it will I still have to pay in advance?
Only if your agreement says you have to. It would still be a contract between you and him
But you could stop paying and say sue us because of what has happened
Then you can counter claim for breach of contract if he does
As this applied to a large number of people on the site do you think we should seek legal advise or even write to our MP's or even Planning Government Ministers for their views?
MP's wont help
Planning Government may
Thanks for your help, you have answered all my questions!
Great. If I could invite you to rate my answer before you go -the button should be at the bottom of the screen
If you need more help please click reply
How do I print our conversation for future reference?
Indeed I understand the frustration. This is why you still should be able to sue the owner for breach of contract and any losses suffered
Once you rate the format changes.
You can then copy and paste our chat or come back to it at any time
Does that help?
Sorry I pressed the wrong button I meant to rate you as excellent, full marks, how do I go back and change it?