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This issue of Outasite Lite reports on the top issues for park residents, challenging excessive rent increases, and more news for park residents and their advocates.
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Affordability biggest concern

The Tenants’ Union (TU) recently wrote to all park residents on the Outasite mailing list (over 700) to check that it is accurate. We had a great response with 563 people from 163 different parks requesting a total of 2,544 copies of Outasite. We also had a number of additions to this Outasite Lite email list, which now stands at 256 residents.

Because we were writing to people, we also undertook a quick survey. We asked residents to nominate what they consider to be the top three issues in residential parks.

96 residents responded to the survey and they provided a total of 236 answers covering 43 different issues.

Not surprisingly high site fees and excessive increases were cited as the top issues with 57 people (59% of respondents) nominating either one or both of these concerns.

Park residents have been unhappy about the process for challenging excessive rent increases for a long time. The main issue for residents is that they bear the onus of proof if they take their case to the Tribunal and gathering evidence is difficult. There is a belief that the evidentiary burden is too high and as a result larger increases than warranted are awarded.

In a recent case at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal residents were successful in arguing the $21.00 a week increase was excessive but an increase of $10.00 a week was still awarded. This is a significant increase for people on a limited income such as the Aged Pension.

The Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 will see some major changes in the area of site fee increases including a requirement that at least 25% of residents must object to an increase in order for it to be challenged.

There is a new compulsory mediation process and only if that fails can an application be made to the Tribunal.

Once at the Tribunal the factors to be considered have also changed. Whilst the evidentiary burden may have been lightened for residents there is a great deal of concern that operators can include projected increases in their outgoings and planned improvements to the community as reasons for site fee increases. And, the Tribunal cannot award an increase lower than that needed to cover any actual or projected increase in the outgoings and operating expenses for the community.

The final report from the Social, public and affordable housing inquiry was recently published and recommendation 22 of the Committee is “That the NSW Government review residential parks legislation to ensure housing affordability is a relevant consideration that can be taken into account by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in matters relating to excessive fee increases.”

With the new legislation yet to commence we will have to wait and see how the new provisions impact on site fees and site fee increases.

The second biggest issue raised by residents in the survey was the behavior of park managers and owners. 47 people (48% of respondents) raised various matters concerning behavior. Issues such as; bullying and intimidation of residents, a poor attitude towards residents, a lack of communication skills and poor knowledge or training in the law.

The Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 introduces a number of new measures to try to address these issues. It brings in new rules of conduct for operators, provides clarity around retaliatory conduct and what constitutes interference with sales, and increases penalties for operators who do the wrong thing.

At number three in the survey was maintenance of common areas, trees and roads. Again, the new Act provides improvement in this area by clarifying the operators’ responsibilities and requiring work to be done to an appropriate standard.

Which Act?

A number of residents have advised the Tenants’ Union that there is confusion in the community about whether the Residential Parks Act 1998 is still in force or the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013. As referenced in the above article, the Residential Parks Act 1998 is still the applicable legislation.

The NSW Government is still working on the Regulation for the new Act and it will not become law until the Regulation has been finalised.

Subscriptions

Outasite and Outasite Lite are free publications published by the Tenants’ Union of NSW. To check or update your details, or add someone to the mailing lists just give us a call or email us (contact details below).

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Can you help get the word out to other park residents? Download a pdf of this issue of Outasite Lite for printing or forward this email to a friend:
 
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Need advice? Contact your local service:

Tenants Advice & Advocacy services:

• Eastern Sydney: 9386 9147
• Inner Sydney: 9698 5975
• Inner Western Sydney: 9559 2899
• Northern Sydney: 8198 8650
• Southern Sydney: 9787 4679
• South Western Sydney: 4628 1678
• Western Sydney: 8833 0933
• Blue Mountains: 4782 4155
• Central Coast: 4353 5515
• Hunter: 4969 7666
• Illawarra South Coast: 4274 3475
• Mid North Coast: 6583 9866
• Northern Rivers: 6621 1022
• North Western NSW: 1800 836 268
• South Western NSW: 1800 642 609
 

Aboriginal services:

• Greater Sydney: 9698 0873
• Western NSW: 6884 0969
• Southern NSW: 1800 672 185
• Northern NSW: 1800 248 913
 

Tenants NSW website:

tenants.org.au
 

CPSA factsheets:

cpsa.org.au/pavsfactsheets
You are receiving this email because you signed up to get Outasite Lite - an email newsletter for residential parks residents and their advocates.

The Tenants’ Union of NSW is a community legal centre specialising in NSW residential tenancies law, and the peak resourcing body for the NSW Tenants Advice and Advocacy Program.

Address: Suite 201, 55 Holt St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone: 02 8117 3777
Email: tunsw@clc.net.au
Web: tenantsunion.org.au

The articles in Outasite are primarily intended for people who live in, or are affected by, the state laws of New South Wales, Australia. While every effort has been made to ensure the legal information in these articles is correct and up-to-date, it is not a substitute for specific legal advice. The articles are intended to be a general guide to the law only. You should seek expert assistance if you are faced with a problem. Views expressed by contributors are not necessarily held by the Tenants’ Union.

© Copyright Tenants' Union of NSW 2014

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