Land lease communities – news and analysis

Tenants' Union Annual Report 2019-2020

Tenants' Union Annual Report Cover
The past year has been an extraordinary one for the Tenants’ Union, by any measure. Unprecedented bushfires and then flooding across NSW drove many displaced tenants to tenancy services for support. Several months of natural disasters then gave way to the COVID-19 pandemic which not only drove a record number of tenants to our online resources looking for information and advice but it forced the Tenants’ Union’s own staff to start working remotely. During these external challenges, this year the Tenants’ Union was also forced to look for a new office space and recruit a new CEO. It has been an incredible year of change, but the staff at the Tenants’ Union have taken it in their stride and risen to every challenge. 
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Outasite Lite 38 – land lease communities news

outasite lite cover
Outasite Lite 38 is winging its way across the internet to subscribers' inboxes. Articles in this issue include, "Community recognition for land lease community advocate", "Appeal afoot – fixed method site fee increases", "Review update", "High Court application", "Advice line extension", and "Holiday period closure".
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Appeal afoot – fixed method site fee increases

Bob Morris
In Outasite Issue 6 (August 2020) we wrote about fixed method site fee increases and mentioned three communities where those methods were being challenged by home owners. Home owners from the Palm Lake Resorts are still awaiting a hearing before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal Appeal Panel, however the Tribunal handed down the decision in Morris and Ors v Kincumber Nautical Village on 3 September.
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Community recognition for resident advocate

Pam
Resident Advocate and Residential Land Lease Communities Forum Member Pam Meatheringham was recognised by Jodie Harrison, Member for Charlestown, in the NSW Parliament on 4 August 2020. In the Community Recognition Statement Ms Jodie Harrison said “I recognise Mrs Pam Meatheringham, a hardworking local of the Charlestown electorate. Pam lives at The Sanctuary in Redhead and has been a tireless land lease community advocate for the residents. Pam serves as secretary and treasurer of the Residential Parks Homeowners Association NSW and works with three other land lease parks in the local area.
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Staying Connected – TAAS Conference 2020

TAAS Conference 2020
Last week, over 100 Tenant Advocates participated in our first online Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services Conference. We explored a range of topics, including changes to tenancy laws, policy reform, and advocate work practice. We looked in detail at the effects COVID-19 has had on tenants lives, the Tribunal’s practices, tenancy law, and mental health. 
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Outasite magazine issue 6 – out now!

Outasite 6 cover
Our annual printed publication for land lease communities has been published and delivered to mailboxes in communities all over NSW. You can also download a pdf here or read the articles online. We hope you enjoy the read. If you’d like to subscribe, please contact us, or subscribe to our regular email newsletter Outasite Lite.
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Five year review

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At the end of 2020, which has been a very strange year so far, the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (RLLC Act) is due for review. The RLLC Act commenced on 1 November 2015 and the Minister responsible is required to review the Act as soon as possible after five years from commencement. Following the review, a report is to be tabled in each House of Parliament within 12 months after the end of the period of five years. If the RLLC Act review proceeds on time, which looks likely, this report would need to be tabled by 31 October 2021. The purpose of a statutory review of an Act is to determine whether the policy objectives remain valid and whether the terms of the Act remain appropriate for securing those objectives. In this article we delve into the detail of the policy objectives and discuss achievements, failures and what needs to change. 
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Fair market value

Philomena and Ian
This article is not about home sales, although that is what gives rise to the issue, it’s about site fees and site fee increases. Fair market value appears in sections 109 and 111 of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (RLLC Act) and is a small but important provision that sets an upper limit on site fees in new site agreements when a home has been sold by one home owner to another. Fair market value is the higher of either the site fees payable by the home owner who is selling the home, or the site fees payable for residential sites of a similar size and location within the community. It seems very straightforward, but in reality the provision has been ineffective and site fees are often set much higher than fair market value. Over time this practice lifts the site fees in a community to higher and higher levels, yet there is no scrutiny over these increases.
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Fixed method site fee increases

Bob Morris
The concept of increasing rent or site fees by a fixed method is not new. Fixed method increases were possible and did happen under the (repealed) Residential Parks Act 1998. What the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act (RLLC Act) introduced is specificity regarding what a fixed method may be, and that is what we examine in this article. The RLLC Act provides that site fees may be increased by a fixed method which may be either: (i) by fixed amounts, or (ii) by a fixed calculation (for example, in proportion to variations in the Consumer Price Index or in the age pension).
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How did we get here?

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With the review of the Residential (Land lease) Communities Act 2013 due to commence at the end of the year we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the history of tenancy legislation in residential parks in NSW. The earliest record of any legislation regarding tenancies in caravan parks appears to be in the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1948. Special provisions were included in this Act to control the rents of caravans and sites. The Rent Controller was given the power to publish the maximum allowable rents for caravans or sites in various parts of the State.
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