Stronger protections required for park residents

New legislation could expose owners, buyers and sellers of mobile or manufactured homes to financial risks, warns Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham.

The NSW Government has introduced legislation that will replace the existing Residential Parks Act, following a process of reviewing the existing laws and consultation on draft legislation.

“I remain concerned that some important issues raised by residents in submissions and letters to MPs haven’t been adequately addressed. For many residents who are retired this is about their primary asset and its value and security affects their future,” Ms Barham said.

“I recognise there are some positive initiatives proposed, including new rules of conduct and sanctions for operators and new disclosure requirements about the sale of homes. Unfortunately home owners could lose out in the new financial arrangements by paying a share of the value of their home to operators, levies for upgrades and rent increases.”

New provisions include ‘voluntary sharing arrangements,’ which allow operators to charge entry and exit fees as well as receiving an uncapped share of the price when a home owner sells their home.

“Voluntary sharing arrangements could see home owners signing over a portion of their home’s sale value to the park operator. These agreements could have a negative impact on costs and affordability across the entire sector. The choice for owners to enter into these agreements needs to be fully informed as to the long-term costs & benefits,” Ms Barham said.

“I’m concerned that the Bill allows operators to justify site fee increases based on projected increases in their costs or planned improvements to the park. These things might never eventuate, yet residents will already be paying, often stretching their financial limits. Another issue is the change of use of sites – it isn’t clear that owners are protected from their site being changed from long-term to short-term use, leaving them subject to termination or a loss of value when it came to the sale of the home.”

“In NSW there is a shortage of affordable housing and residential parks are for many not only cost effective but also provide a very important community particularly for many older persons The legislation should protect the rights and interests of these people,” Ms Barham concluded.

The Bill will be debated when Parliament resumes next week. Ms Barham has indicated she will pursue amendments that adequately protect vulnerable home owners and residents.