Mick de Brenni has issued a warning to “rogue” lifestyle village operators that their days are numbered after Channel Nine aired a story about residents unhappy with rent increases and contracts.
In the original investigation, a resident at Hometown Australia’s Regal Waters community in Bethania requested a rent decrease from a dual occupancy rate to a single rate, as per his original site agreement – around $10 less a week – after his wife died. He was turned down, as was another female resident who lost her husband earlier this year.
Hometown Australia told 9News that they are “genuinely sympathetic” to the losses felt by the residents, but the single occupancy rate is a “complex and technical legal issue” and reducing rent “is unfair to their fellow home owners.”
Both residents are now disputing the increases through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) – but this can take up to 12 to 18 months for a resolution.
Hometown defends rent charges
Hometown says it has already absorbed recent increases in council charges which they have not passed onto residents and that they are “committed to working with its home owners as well as the regulator on any concerns these important stakeholders may have.”
Nine also canvassed residents at Burpengary Pines Village, where 103 residents are disputing a rental increase and a charge for excess water, saying the increases are unjustified.
However, they are still waiting for a hearing date 12 months on.
Management at the community said that residents’ claims are “unsubstantiated” and “there are appropriate dispute resolutions processes available to them through QCAT”.
QLD Housing Minister blames “rogue” operators
The Housing Minister denied that the State Government had failed to support residents, saying they progressively reforming the legislation that governs land lease communities since 2017.
“There are a lot of good operators out there but absolutely there are some rogues so it’s important to be careful,” he said.
Mr de Brenni blamed multinational companies for buying into the state’s lifestyle communities in recent years and treating residents “abhorrently”.
“It’s not good enough and for those rogues who want to continually seek out loopholes to neglect the residents then we need to do everything that we can to close those loopholes,” he added.
Tighter legislation on its way
However, the Minister agreed that dispute resolution processes need to be improved and the current laws are outdated.
“They’re an element of the 70s and 80s and they don’t fit the needs of Queenslanders and those residents that want to move in there,” he said.
“It’s high time for a ‘root and branch overhaul of that legislation to provide those seniors with the sorts of rights that they deserve.”
The Minister added that the Government is close to passing its COVID protections for lifestyle communities with the legislation to be retrospective to 25 May 2020.
Expect to hear more on this issue then.