It’s becoming more and more popular for retirees to consider moving into a relocatable home in a residential park rather than investing in a smaller residential property for their retirement. Usually, the resident owns the relocatable home but leases the land where it is situated from the park operator with a site agreement being entered into by the relevant parties at the time of purchase. There are generally some maintenance and other fees payable to maintain the common areas along with the site fees.
We have a number of these communities in our local area and there can be a lot of advantages such as the social aspects of living in a community with people of a similar age group, access to amenities and common areas maintained by the park operators, and downsizing into a much smaller and easier to maintain space while still having all the comforts of living in your own home. But with so many people living so close together, and the park operator having overall control within the residential community, there is also the potential for conflict when operators and residents disagree.
The good news is there is legislation governing the rights and responsibilities of residents and operators known as the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013. The legislation is intended to improve the governance of these communities and establish procedures for resolving disputes between operators and residents when they do arise. Operators are not able to contract out of the provisions of the legislation and terms in site agreements are void to the extent that they are inconsistent with the Act. The Act provides that a disclosure statement detailing the fees and charges payable, the services and facilities available and other statutory requirements is to be provided to prospective residents before they enter into a site agreement and independent advice is able to be sought about any proposed agreement. Operators cannot interfere with a resident’s right to sell the home except on limited grounds. The legislation also sets out the circumstances where either a resident or the operator can terminate the agreement.
If there is a dispute between the operator and a resident that is not able to be resolved through internal arrangements or dispute resolution procedures, the matter may be referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for determination.
If you are considering moving into one of these communities, you may wish to consider seeking independent advice before entering into the site agreement to understand your rights and responsibilities and that of the operator. You should also seek advice if there is any conflict with a park operator that is not able to be resolved by agreement.
KC Hilton, WNB Legal