Perseverance pays off
By Mary Flowers, Tenant Advocate, Northern Rivers Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service
When Robyn Meyers decided to sell her home, she did not expect to have to make multiple Tribunal applications to do so.
Her home was located in a residential community in Byron Bay. Property prices in Byron Bay are at a premium, and many people working there cannot afford to live there.
The home belonged to Robyn’s mother and after her death legal ownership was passed to Robyn, as well as the site agreement.
When Robyn’s mother was alive she received a letter from the community operator advising that homeowners would not be permitted to sell their homes to anyone except the operator. The operator tried to impose this on Robyn, and offered her $180,000 to buy the home.
The Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (the RLLC Act) does not permit an operator to place such restrictions on the sale of a home. Every home owner has the right to sell their home on site to a buyer of their choice.
Robyn declined the operator’s offer and engaged a local estate agent who valued the home at $315,000. Robyn and the agent entered into a contract to sell the home.
There was a lot of interest in the home, but the operator told the real estate agent he would not agree to the sale of the home to anyone but him.
On Robyn’s behalf, the real estate agent made an application to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) asking for orders that:
- the operator stop interfering with the sale
- the operator enter into new site agreement with the purchaser
At the Tribunal, the operator consented to these orders. Three prospective purchasers came and went, however, the operator’s behaviour deterred all of them from proceeding with the sale. One prospective purchaser met with the operator and was told that a proposed bypass in Byron Bay would impact negatively on the value of the property. This was not a view shared by the real estate agent. The prospective purchaser also wanted to add solar panels to the home and was told that no alterations to the home would be permitted.
Robyn decided to renew the Tribunal proceedings seeking further orders that the operator stop interfering with the sale, and for assignment of the existing site agreement. It was at this stage she contacted the Northern Rivers Tenants Advice & Advocacy Service (NORTAAS).
Robyn was distraught when the operator made another offer to buy her home for $150,000. Robyn was concerned that if her Tribunal action was unsuccessful, she would be forced to sell to the operator. The operator said the reason for the reduced offer was because of ‘the trouble Robyn was causing’.
The real estate agent was still trying to sell the property and even though Robyn reduced her asking price, the home remained unsold. After much frustration and considerable financial cost, Robyn decided to sublet her home. The real estate agent found a suitable tenant and the operator agreed to a 12 month subletting arrangement, and a tenancy began between Robyn and the tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
Robyn proceeded with her Tribunal application and at the final hearing, the Member asked the parties to conciliate, believing this would provide a better outcome. After a lengthy conciliation, Robyn accepted an offer from the operator to buy her home. This offer was more than $100,000 higher than the original offer.
Following the Tribunal hearing, NORTAAS contacted the real estate agent to advise of the outcome. They acted immediately to begin the formalities of the sale process. Michele Jackson from Raine & Horne Byron Bay said of NORTAAS “Without your involvement, the sale would not have happened.”
The sale was completed, the real estate agent received their commission, the operator took ownership of another home in the community, and the home owner received an acceptable price for her home. The tenancy agreement with the new tenant was a fixed term agreement, which transferred with the sale.
“Robyn showed great tenacity in enforcing her rights under the Residential Land Lease Communities Act. It was incredibly satisfying to see Robyn’s huge smile when she secured an agreement for the purchase of her home, as previous Tribunal proceedings had been very stressful.” - Mary Flowers, Tenant Advocate, NORTAAS