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3 December 2021
On 31 January 2022, changes to residential parks laws will commence. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Under the new laws, park operators will only be able to charge actual costs for services (utilities) or facilities. In addition, to charge tenants for electricity, water and gas, the tenant’s site must, like current law, have a separate meter.
Agreements that commence on or after 31 January 2022 will no longer be able to include a market review of rent and any increase in rent must be objectively measurable.
Another change will be the introduction of standardised long-stay agreement forms that park operators must use with new tenancies that commence on and after 31 January 2022.
These agreements will 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 will also apply by operation of law to existing long-stay agreements. This means that 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.
One of the current options for holding a security bond is to create an account with a financial institution. This option will be replaced with an obligation for park operators to lodge all security bonds for long-stay tenancies with Bond Administration.
Park operators will no longer be allowed to 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 from 31 January 2022 cannot be terminated before the end of the fixed-term on grounds that the park is to be sold with vacant possession, except with the tenant’s agreement.
In addition, for new mortgages entered into from 31 January 2022, agreements will no longer automatically end if a mortgagee takes possession of the park.
New provisions will apply in relation to the sale of a park home owned by the long-stay tenant. The seller and park operator will also have new obligations during the sales process. Before the home is sold, the seller will have to give the buyer a purchase disclosure notice and the sale will be conditional on the buyer entering into a long-stay agreement with the park operator.
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 new laws will 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.
The changes will introduce new requirements about the creation and running of a park liaison committee, such as the process to elect tenant representatives to the committee.
Additional information and the forms will be available in our January 2022 bulletin. If you have any queries about the changes, please contact our Legislation and Policy team via firstname.lastname@example.org.