December 4 2013 Latest news:
Story by: ROB SETCHELL, Reporter
Friday, November 2, 2012
PARK home residents are celebrating a “moral victory” after a tribunal dismissed their landlords’ claim for £12,000 in costs and awarded a small rent reduction.
About 50 residents of Fenland Village and Osborne Park, in Wisbech, had refused to pay increased ground rents due to an ongoing dispute with site owners Tingdene Homes.
Members of a Rent Tribunal Commission have now ruled that four properties should get a rent reduction and told Tingdene that the costs claim was “wholly without merit”.
Fenland councillor Virginia Bucknor, who has supported the residents, said today: “They have won the battle but not the war.”
Residents, many of whom are elderly, claimed that Tingdene failed to deal with a list of complaints and that lowered street lights, placed metres from their properties, shine into their windows.
The rent tribunal was heard at the Boathouse, in Wisbech, last month.
Tingdene applied for legal costs from the Twin Parks Residents’ Association on the grounds they had acted “unreasonably” - but this claim was dismissed.
The tribunal agreed that the street light changes had a “detrimental affect” for some residents and members said they were surprised that the alterations were made without appropriate notification and consultation.
Tingdene had sent a letter to all residents who opposed the rent increase advising them they would be in rent arrears. The tribunal deemed this letter “seriously misrepresented the situation” and that “some of the residents who subsequently made the increased payments did so under duress”.
The tribunal also noted that Tingdene had an “absence of a formal complaints procedure but that should not prevent complaints being made”.
The rent reduction - which equates to about £63 per year - was awarded to the residents of four homes who suffer from the lowered lights shining in their windows.
The tribunal is unlikely to bring an end to the dispute as residents are still furious that Tingdene has banned them from holding charity events on their village green.
The park homes firm say they enforced the ban, which recently prompted residents to hold a charity coffee morning on their driveways, due to “noise complaints”.
More than 50 residents condemned the ban at a silent protest last month.
Cllr Bucknor said: “The residents’ committee believe they have won a moral victory and hope that in future Tingdene will consult residents first.
“However, the residents still don’t have their green back, where they have held some wonderful events over the years, and the lowered street lights will remain.”
North East Cambs MP Steve Barclay was also quick to praise the residents for their tribunal victory this afternoon.
He said on Twitter: “Well done Twin Parks residents on tribunal victory v disgraceful park home owner Tingdene who ‘seriously misrepresented’. Now return green.”