Changes to the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2006
Changes to residential parks law (Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2006 (RP Act) and the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Regulations 2007 (Regulations)) commenced on 31 January 2022. The changes affect long-stay tenants in residential parks living in a relocatable home within a caravan park or lifestyle village.
The changes improve the security of long-stay tenancy agreements and promote fair and transparent arrangements between park operators and tenants.
These changes impact a number of areas ranging from the disclosure requirements that apply before a long-stay tenancy can start to how you can end a tenancy.
The frequently asked questions below have been developed to help you understand how the law may affect you.
What are the main changes to the residential parks law?
Improved disclosure requirements in long-stay agreements
Under the new laws, prospective tenants interested in a site-only agreement must receive the pre-contract disclosure material at least five working days before signing the agreement.
The changes will also require the inclusion of extra information within the pre-contract disclosure material. Park operators will need to provide this information to all prospective long-stay tenants, whether they are seeking an on-site or site only agreement.
There will also be an ongoing requirement for park operators to disclose information about anything that may affect a tenancy, such as the sale of the park.
Park operators will need to disclose voluntary sharing arrangements, such as exit fees or deferred rent arrangements, and provide examples of how this will apply to the tenant. There will also be rules around when voluntary sharing arrangements can be included in an agreement.
New long-stay agreements and standard terms
Another change is the introduction of standardised long-stay agreements that park operators must use with new tenancies that commence on and after 31 January 2022.
These agreements include new standard terms, such as clear requirements for operators in relation to maintenance. Neither the park operator nor the tenant can waive their rights to, or obligations under, these terms.
These standard terms apply by operation of law to existing long-stay agreements. This means they apply whether existing long-stay agreements are amended or not to include these terms.
The park operator or tenant can choose to add extra terms and conditions to the agreement, as long as those extra terms do not conflict with residential parks laws.
Standard terms now apply to all agreements, including clear requirements for operators in relation to maintenance. Contracting out of standard terms (replacing terms required by law or asking a consumer to agree to a term that waives their rights) is not permitted.
Terminating long-stay agreements
Park operators can no longer terminate site-only agreements without grounds. Instead a list of specific grounds for termination will apply, such as on the sale or redevelopment of a park; or where a tenant repeatedly interferes with other tenants’ quiet enjoyment of the park.
A fixed term agreement entered into after the changes commence cannot be terminated on the grounds that the park is to be sold with vacant possession, unless the tenant agrees with the termination.
Agreements will no longer automatically end if a mortgagee takes possession of the park, for mortgages entered into after the changes commence.
Improved rules around rent and other fees
Park operators may only charge actual costs for services (utilities) or facilities. In order to charge tenants for electricity, water and gas, the tenant’s site must have a separate meter.
Agreements that commence on or after 31 January 2022 cannot include a market review of rent and any increase in rent must be objectively measurable.
Greater clarity is required in relation to fees and charges payable under long-stay agreements. Operators are only allowed to charge actual costs when providing facilities or services.
Operators must disclose voluntary sharing arrangements, such as exit fees or deferred rent arrangements, and provide examples of how this applies to a tenant’s particular circumstances. There are also rules around when voluntary sharing arrangements can be included in an agreement.
Sale of a park home
New provisions apply in relation to the sale of a park home owned by the long-stay tenant. The seller and park operator have new obligations during the sales process. Before the home is sold, the seller must give the buyer a buyer disclosure notice and the sale may be conditional on the buyer entering into a long-stay agreement with the park operator.
Park operators cannot interfere with the sale of a home or require the seller to appoint a particular person as selling agent.
The new laws clarify the types of rules that a park operator may make, such as the rules for the use, enjoyment, control, and management of the park. This will include the introduction of clear processes on how to amend the rules.
The rules need to be applied reasonably, fairly and equitably. Park operators and tenants will need to comply with the park’s rules. The park operator will need to take reasonable steps to ensure tenants comply with the rules.
Park liaison committees
Clearer requirements have been included in the RP Act and Regulations about the creation and running of park liaison committees. The changes introduce new requirements about the creation and running of a park liaison committee, such as the process to elect tenant representatives to the committee.
State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)
The changes provide the SAT with appropriate powers to deal with all issues arising under long-stay agreements. New powers are included for the SAT in relation to harsh and unreasonable terms in agreements, pre-contractual promises and maintenance and repair obligations.
How do the changes to the residential park law affect me?
Changes that apply if you have an existing agreement or are entering a new agreement
- Standard terms apply to all agreements, including clear requirements for operators in relation to maintenance. Contracting out of standard terms (replacing terms required by law or asking a consumer to agree to a term that waives their rights) are not permitted.
- Continuing disclosure obligation for park operators in relation to matters that impact on a tenancy, such as telling a tenant that the park will be sold or redeveloped.
- Without grounds termination of site-only agreements are not permitted. Specific termination provisions relating to use of the park and tenants interfering with quiet enjoyment apply.
- Operators must provide you with advance notice about whether an agreement will be extended at the end of the fixed term.
- When your home is sold, you must give the buyer a purchase disclosure notice which requires that the sale is conditional on the buyer entering into a long-stay agreement with the park operator.
- Park operators must not interfere with the sale of your home or require you to appoint a particular person as selling agent.
- New requirements about the creation, amendment and enforcement of park rules apply to you.
- Clearer provisions about abandonment of premises and dealing with abandoned goods apply to you.
- New provisions about establishment of park liaison committees apply to you as a voting tenant or elected committee member.
- Security bonds must be held by the Bond Administrator.
- Broader powers for the State Administrative Tribunal may assist you in the event of a dispute.
- Park operators have a continuing disclosure obligation in relation to matters that impact on a tenancy, such as telling a tenant that the park will be sold or redeveloped.
- Without grounds termination of site-only agreements is not permitted. Specific termination provisions relating to use of the park and tenants interfering with quiet enjoyment instead apply.
- Operators to provide advance notice to a tenant about whether an agreement will be extended at end of the fixed term.
- Before the home is sold, the tenant must give the buyer a purchase disclosure notice and the sale may be conditional on the buyer entering into a long-stay agreement with the park operator.
- Park operators cannot interfere with the sale of a home or require the tenant to appoint a particular person as selling agent.
- New requirements about the creation, amendment and enforcement of park rules.
- Clearer provisions about abandonment of premises and dealing with abandoned goods.
- New provisions about establishment of park liaison committees.
- Security bonds to be held by the Bond Administrator.
- Broader powers for the State Administrative Tribunal.
Changes that only apply to new agreements
- Additional disclosures before entering into a long-stay agreement, including specific disclosure about exit fees and other voluntary sharing arrangements.
- Agreements are in standard form.
- Prohibition on the following types of contract clauses:
- market rent review;
- preventing sale of home on-site; and
- passing on the costs of an agreement to the tenant.
- No termination of fixed term agreements if the park is sold with vacant possession.
Changes that apply to new mortgages only
Prevention of the automatic termination of long-stay agreements if a mortgagee takes possession of a park.
What documentation should be provided to a tenant before moving into a residential park?
Before entering into an on-site long-stay agreement, the park operator must provide the tenant with:
- a copy of the proposed long-stay agreement;
- a disclosure statement;
- the park rules (if any);
- a copy of the park living information booklet;
- a written schedule of all fees payable by the tenant; and
- a copy of the property condition report recording the condition of the premises prior to the commencement of the tenancy.
If the long-stay agreement includes a voluntary sharing arrangement (eg. exit fee) the park operator must also give the prospective tenant a document stating how the voluntary sharing arrangement is to operate, including examples of how the arrangement would apply to them.
For a site-only agreement, the park operator must provide the documents (including the property condition report) at least five working days before the agreement is signed.
Exceptions apply if the tenant’s relocatable home is a licensed vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1974, and the tenant states in writing to the park operator that they do not require the documents.
Is any other information required to be provided?
The park operator is required to provide the tenant with the full name and address of the park operator.
Can a prospective tenant change their mind about taking up a tenancy?
Yes. A ‘cooling off period’ of five working days applies where a person has signed a site-only agreement. Where the park operator has not provided all the required disclosure documents at least five working days prior to signing the agreement, the cooling off period is extended to 10 days from the date the disclosure documents are actually provided.
If the park operator does not provide the disclosure documents to the prospective tenant as required under the Act, the tenant can terminate the agreement at any time.
Note - A ‘cooling-off period’ does not apply where a tenant has commenced to occupy the premises.
Is there a required form for a new long-stay agreement?
Yes. From 31 January 2022 the required form must be used when entering into or renewing an on‑site or site-only long-stay agreement. The agreement includes standard terms and, unlike the previous agreement, restricts the operator from contracting out of its obligations, including the costs which can be passed on to the tenant.
Will an existing agreement need to be updated to the new form?
No. Agreements made prior to 31 January 2022 will remain valid and will apply for the term of the agreement. However, the standard lease terms outlined in Division 5 of the amended legislation will apply to all agreements including existing agreements. If a term of an existing agreement is not consistent with a standard lease term, the inconsistent term will not apply.
In addition, a number of other rights and obligations under the new legislation will apply to existing agreements. For example, the park operator’s new obligation to provide tenants with written notice of any material change in relation to the park, will apply to all tenants even if this obligation is not included in their agreement.
Can the cost of preparing the long-stay agreement be passed on to the tenant?
No. This is no longer permitted.
Do I have to pay a bond? If I do, how is my bond money protected?
A security bond can only be required by the park operator at the commencement of the tenancy. The bond must not be more than the equivalent of four weeks’ rent. All bonds will now need to be held with the Bond Administrator.
There is no longer an option for the bond to be held in a separate tenancy bond account. Park operators must transfer existing bonds held in a bank account to the Bond Administrator by 31 July 2023 if not disposed prior to that date.
The bond cannot be released at the end of the tenancy unless both parties agree about its dispersal or, where agreement cannot be reached, either party makes an application for orders regarding payment of the bond to the State Administrative Tribunal.
A park operator cannot charge a key bond. Where a key bond has previously been collected the park operator must return the amount to the tenant by 31 July 2023.
Does a park liaison committee have to be formed?
If a residential park has 20 or more long-stay sites, a Park Liaison Committee (PLC), consisting of at least one or more long-stay tenants and one or more representatives of the park operator must be formed only if the majority of long-stay tenants vote that they wish to have one. There must be more tenant representatives on the PLC than representatives of the park operator. The park operator must hold such a vote at least once every five years and no more than once every 12 months.
Are there any rules about pets?
Park Rules, if there are any, must include whether pets are permitted or not. Subject to the agreement between the PLC (if there is one) and park residents, the rules could specify how pets are to be kept. For example small pets only, allowed to be kept outside only, and the responsibility to manage noise and behaviour of pets in the park.
Can a tenant be charged an additional bond for keeping a pet?
Yes. If the tenant is allowed to keep a pet capable of carrying parasites that can affect humans (eg cats or dogs), the park operator can charge a pet bond to meet the cost of fumigating the premises at the end of the tenancy. The new maximum amount for a pet bond is $260. Pet bonds are not required to be charged but can be a term of a long-stay agreement.
Tenants must not be charged a pet bond for an assistance dog.
Where a pet bond is taken it must be held by the Bond Administrator.
What fees can be charged, other than rent and security bond?
The following fees can be charged to the tenant where services are provided for the tenant’s benefit and are included in the long-stay agreement:
- Extra person fee for temporary guests (excludes carers)
- Water consumption (if the site has a separate water meter)
- Electricity consumption (if the site has a separate electricity meter)
- Gas consumption (if the site has a separate gas meter)
- Telephone calls (if the site has a separate phone line)
- Internet service provided to the tenant
- Gardening services provided to the site
- Storage of a tenant’s goods
- Additional parking space
- Servicing of air conditioning
- Gutter cleaning of the relocatable home
- Replacement key, remote control entry device or other security device.
How is electricity charged?
This has not changed. Tenants can only be charged the actual cost of consumption and only if there is a separate meter. The park operator must pay for all supply charges. For more information see Residential Parks Bulletin 18.
How is water charged?
This has not changed. Tenants can only be charged the actual cost of consumption and only if there is a separate meter. The park operator must pay for all supply charges. A park operator cannot charge a meter reading fee.
Can a tenant sell a relocatable home?
A seller of a relocatable home can appoint an agent or other person to sell the relocatable home, and must enter into a selling agency agreement. The selling agency agreement must contain a minimum level of information about the home, including details of the relocatable home (the location and, if known, the make and model number of the relocatable home), the period of time the selling agency agreement will run for, the services that will be provided by the selling agent and details of any commission or incidental expenses payable upon the sale, including how the commission will be calculated.
The seller and park operator have new obligations during the sales process. Before the buyer signs the sale contract, the seller must give the buyer a Buyer Disclosure Notice (Form RP2C) and the sale of the relocatable home will be conditional upon the buyer entering into a new long-stay agreement with the park operator or the seller assigning an existing agreement to the buyer.
Park operators will not be able to interfere with the sale of a home or require the seller to appoint a particular person as selling agent. The park operator is not required to enter into a new agreement with a prospective buyer however they cannot unreasonably refuse to do so.
Can the park operator charge a selling fee if they are not appointed to sell?
No. A park operator is only entitled to charge a commission for the sale of a relocatable home if they have entered into a valid selling agency agreement with the home owner and they sell the home. They cannot claim commission if the home is sold by someone else.
If the park operator is appointed to sell and the relocatable home does not sell, can a selling fee be charged?
Can a tenant sub-let?
If the long-stay agreement allows for sub-letting, a tenant can sub-let the agreed premises (the site or relocatable home). If the agreement does not include a term about whether sub-letting is permitted, then the tenant can sub-let if they have written permission from the park operator to do so. The park operator must not unreasonably withhold consent.
A real estate agent who provides services in relation to sub-letting an agreed premises must not require a fee from the sub-tenant.
On what grounds can a park operator give notice to terminate the agreement?
A site only agreement can be terminated for the following reasons:
- Non-payment of rent
- Breach of the agreement by the tenant (may include a breach of the park rules)
- The agreement is frustrated (eg where the premises become uninhabitable)
- The park is to be sold with vacant possession
- The park operator and tenant mutually agree to end the long-stay agreement
- The closure of the park
- The park or site is to be used for a different purpose
- A requirement to carry out works on the site or the part of the park on which the site is located
- Tenant is causing damage or injury or has repeatedly interfered with the quiet enjoyment of the park by other tenants
- Park operator is experiencing hardship
- End of the fixed term.
Different notice and other requirements will apply if a site-only agreement is to be terminated on one of the above grounds.
An on site agreement may be terminated for any of the above reasons or for no reason as long as the correct amount of notice is given.
If a ‘without grounds’ notice for a site-only agreement is issued prior to 31 January 2022 but the date of effect is not until after the commencement, does the notice still apply?
If the notice of termination of a site-only agreement was given prior to commencement of the changes to the legislation and specifies a date of termination after 31 January 2022, the termination will not be valid.
From 31 January 2022, a site-only agreement cannot be terminated without grounds (i.e. without reason). Termination of a site-only agreement can only occur on one of the grounds and in the manner outlined in the legislation (for example if the site is to be closed or used for a purpose other than for a residential park.
Where can I go for help if things aren’t working out?
If you have contacted the park operator and have been unable to resolve the dispute, the issue should be raised with the park liaison committee (PLC), if there is one. The PLC should have an internal dispute resolution process to deal with issues that arise in the park.
If you are unable to resolve the issue using the internal dispute resolution process you can contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 for advice and/or assistance.
The State Administrative Tribunal is the relevant authority for making legally enforceable orders in relation to Residential Park disputes.
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