Strategic litigation – 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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Pets and strata - a win! But it's only the first step.

Photo of young toddler seated next to labrador dog.
On Monday, 12 October 2020 the NSW Court of Appeal found that a strata by-law that places a ban on pets breaches NSW strata scheme legislation and is invalid. A blanket ban on pets, they found, is “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”.
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A year to review

Gateway Lifestyle Stanhope Gardens residents
Yes, it has been four years since the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (RLLC Act) commenced and that means the statutory review is due next year. The Tenants’ Union has already started working with Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services, Resident Groups and Resident Committees to identify areas of the law we think could be improved. Looking back over the past year electricity overcharging by operators has once again dominated the land lease community landscape. NCAT has determined a number of disputes and other groups of home owners have reached agreements regarding charges and refunds with their operators.
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Interference with sale

Beverley and Brian Welch
The Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (the Act) provides home owners with the right to sell their home on site. The Act also states the operator must not cause or permit any interference, or any attempt to interfere with a home owner’s right to sell the home. Similar provisions appeared in the (now repealed) Residential Parks Act 1998 yet arguably park owners and operators have always interfered in home sales. Will a recent decision of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal bring a change in operator behaviour?
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Is it over?

Ken and Margaret
On 9 January 2019 the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) handed down the decision regarding electricity usage charges in Reckless v Silva Portfolios Pty Ltd t/as Ballina Waterfront Village and Tourist Park (No. 2) [2018] NSWCATCD 59. In this issue of Outasite Lite we look at the history of the ‘Reckless’ dispute, the latest decision (‘Reckless No. 2’) and the expert witness report that was provided in evidence by the operator.
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A brighter future?

Parks forum
We are approaching the end of another year and have reached the third anniversary of the commencement of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (the Act). In this issue of Outasite Lite we provide an update on electricity usage charges, site fees and site fee increases, operator conduct, local government regulations, the Ombudsman and celebrate the Parks Forum turning 20!
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Power to the people – at a reasonable price

Electricity
With the commencement of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (the Act) the method of calculating consumption charges for electricity, gas and water changed. The Tenants’ Union has highlighted the change through articles and a report. We have also held discussions with home owners, Tenant Advocates, the NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWON) and NSW Fair Trading to explain that operators should not and cannot charge more than they are charged by their utility providers. Read more in this issue of Outasite Lite.
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Tenants' Union Annual Report 2015-2016 now online

The cover of the Tenant's Union Annual Report
This year the TU celebrated four decades of working for tenants’ rights. An anniversary such as this is an opportunity to celebrate achievements, acknowledge the many contributors to the journey and take a clear-eyed view on what still needs to be done. You can read more about how we celebrated this milestone in our Annual Report. The report also summarises the TU's activity over 2015-2016 across all our service areas.
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Land Lease Community residents get their day in the Supreme Court

Hastings Point Residents
Paul Smyth (Tenants' Union Residential Parks Legal Officer) has been working with the residents of Hasting Point for the past five years on their court case for compensation for eviction. On 14th November, they had their day in the Supreme Court.
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