- Wantirna Caravan Park’s Barry Bedwell, 81, takes on developer and wins
- By Josh Fagan
- Contributed by: Bruce_W ( 1 article in 2018 )
AN 81-YEAR-OLD Wantirna Caravan Park man has scored a win for the little guy.
Barry Bedwell was among 153 permanent residents told they were being forced out to make way for a multimillion-dollar townhouse development.
But instead of packing up his home of 14 years, Mr Bedwell mounted a legal challenge.
Mr Bedwell argued developer Longriver had not followed the correct procedure in giving him his eviction notice because it was not hand-delivered [personal service] or sent via registered post [requiring court ordered alternate service].
And the state’s civil and administrative tribunal agreed.
In a ruling released last Thursday, tribunal member Susan Burdon-Smith found the notice to vacate given to Mr Bedwell, in the form of an email [he had never agreed to use email to receive notices] and a letter left in his letterbox, did not comply with the Residential Tenancies Act requirements.
Because the original eviction notice was for 365 days, the ruling meant Longriver would now have to reissue another 365-day notice to vacate or buy Mr Bedwell’s house.
“They’ve got two options — pay me out or give me another year,” Mr Bedwell said.
Mr Bedwell said he was “very happy” with the outcome and felt vindicated taking on the case.
“It’s been worth the effort. I suppose in some ways I had plenty of time, I sort of potter around all day and would work on it in the morning and go somewhere in the afternoon.”
Under Victorian law, caravan park tenants can be forced out without compensation for their losses, while those in a similar situation in New South Wales and Queensland would be compensated.
The official eviction date at the park was January 8 and only a handful of residents are still there as they finalise their relocation plans.
Barry Bedwell, second from right, with other residents at Wantirna Caravan Park
Mr Bedwell moved out last year to be in a unit close to his wife’s retirement home in Wantirna South but said he was still paying rent at the park.
He said while there were two options available he believed there was “no way in hell” Longriver would let his house stand in the way of their planned development.
He said he and Legal Aid lawyers were in talks with Longriver on a payout and were hopeful that would be resolved soon.
The market value of the house was estimated to be about $160,000, he said.
Victoria Legal Aid senior lawyer Tanja Golding hailed the tribunal’s decision an “important” win.
Ms Golding said it gave Mr Bedwell “significantly more time” to negotiate.
She said it helped clarify the law around what was required for eviction notices, however she said it was sadly too late to set a precedent for the rest of the park’s evicted residents.
“It’s unfortunate that most of the residents have already moved out,” she said.
“It may be the remaining residents will have options to challenge their notices.”
The park’s owner, Andrew Yu, from Longriver, bought the site for $35.6 million in August 2016 and issued the eviction notices in December 2016.
A planning application to build 294 townhouses at the site was rejected by Knox councillors in July 2017, but has since been appealed to the tribunal, with a decision yet to be released.
Longriver did not respond to requests for comment.