Hunter Tenant’s Advice & Advocacy Service, along with a number of other tenancy services received a one off grant from NSW Fair Trading to employ a part time project worker to assist with the implementation of the new Residential Land Lease Communities Act 2013. Hunter has a significant number of residential communities in its area and that number is set to increase. Large communities are currently being built in Newcastle and Cessnock and Maitland and Port Stephens councils have approved, or are considering development applications for even more residential communities.
Many of our communities are well organised with active resident’s groups and residents have attended information sessions presented by Fair Trading or the Tenant’s Union and they are well informed of the new Act and what it means for them. Other communities, for various reasons, had little or no knowledge of the new legislation.
Hunter TAAS decided the best use of our limited communities project resources would be to inform as many community home-owners as possible about the introduction of the new Act, we have targeted our resources to those communities that are smaller, more isolated, mixed use (i.e. provide holiday as well as permanent accommodation) that are less likely to be aware of the introduction of new legislation. In practice, this has meant the community project worker, accompanied by another Hunter staff member visiting the parks, door knocking, telling people about the new laws, answering their questions and distributing written information on their rights as well as contact details of our Service, the TU’s Noticeboard and Fair Trading in case they are necessary in the future. Many of the communities had absolutely no knowledge of the new Act.
Positive outcomes to date include homeowners with new or increased knowledge of the Residential Land Lease Communities Act, staff who are more aware or the residential communities lifestyle and who have acquired more detailed knowledge of the Act by researching issues for homeowners.
An unexpected outcome of the Project has been the community development aspect; the project officer has assisted homeowners to obtain information and take action to improve their community. GIPA applications have been made to Councils, Council has made a compliance visit to a community and issued a program of works, homeowners have, through the project requested Fair Trading pay a visit to their community and begin discussions with the community operator to improve compliance with the new legislation.
Calls to our advice line from residential community homeowners have increased significantly; great that more people are aware of and actively using our Service. If only an increase in permanent funding allowed for more advocates able to respond to the increased requests for assistance.