Strategic litigation – news and analysis

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 Similar provisions appeared in the (now repealed) Residential Parks Act 1998 yet arguably park owners and operators have always interfered in home sales.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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A win for park residents in court

Outasite Lite article
Two permanent residents of Homestead Holiday Park (Gennacker Pty Ltd) on the Tweed River have finally won a lengthy court battle against their park owner. The park owner had given them a no-grounds notice of termination in 2012, and claimed the residents were not covered by the Residential Parks Act 1998 (then in force). The park owner argued instead that they were covered by the Holiday Parks (Long Term Casual Occupation) Act 2002. This would have left the residents facing immediate eviction.
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A win for Wallacia residents

Tom
You may remember we reported on emergency access issues at Wallacia Caravan Park in our May issue of Outasite Lite. Residents considered the emergency access arrangements in the park to be complicated and inadequate – putting them at risk. Tom Mortimer, a Tenant Advocate from the Western Sydney Tenants’ Service who assisted residents, tells us more about how a great outcome was achieved…
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