- Don't kick us out
- 13/10/2019 Make a Comment
- Contributed by: Pina ( 12 articles in 2019 )
Your home is your castle – whether it's a house, unit, or in this case, a caravan
Many of these long-term park residents have put tens of thousands of dollars into their humble dwellings.
Now they're about to lose everything.
Statement from SEQ Properties
SEQ Properties purchased the land from the State Government. We have operated the existing caravan park business for the past 28 years.
There was no obligation upon either the government or us to notify the tenants of a change of ownership. The conditions of sale including the existing conditions of the Heritage Listing and Agreement did not impact the tenants existing RTA 18b periodic leases.
While not publicised, we know that several residents were aware of the sale.
The purchase of the land was a commercial transaction for the business and no bearing on the strategy and operation of the park. It had no impact on the Resident's existing RTA 18b Periodic (month to month) Leases, so I felt the transaction had no specific impact to the residents.
During the process, SEQ Properties consulted with Sunshine Coast Council and relevant parties.
Prior to recent press, I have been approached by numerous residents over the last year who were aware of the ownership change. While we didn't make an explicit announcement, it was reasonably known.
The sale was done in accordance with the Lands Act and was coordinated by the Government's officers.
(Applying for freehold) was a straightforward commercial decision to protect the investment we have made in the site and increases our investment horizon. The purchase has allowed us to continue investing and improving the facilities of the property.
Freeholding of the land allows us to continue to support and offer leases to 19 residents in the park.
We acknowledge the impact this will have on a number of medium to long term tenants and have numerous measures in place to provide additional support and reduce the impact. While a few of those residents have purchased unmovable dwellings, the major of those leaving are living in towable vans without hard infrastructure. Likewise, a number of the tenants are living in park owned dwellings, similar to a standard housing rental arrangement.
SEQ Properties has always been at pains to explain the terms of a standard RTA 18b lease (perpetual month to month lease with 2 months' notice) to any new tenant – especially those purchasing existing vans. We conduct a formal interview with each purchaser before they purchase the dwelling to ensure that they understand the terms of the lease. There has never been any explicit or implicit promise of "forever homes" during our pre-tenancy interviews.
In giving notice, we have implemented a number of measures to help mitigate the impact on the tenants. Those measures include: a) An RTA lease requires two months' notice. We have extended that to six months' notice to allow tenants additional time to find alternate housing.
b) An RTA lease requires that departing tenants re-instate the site. Recent experience indicate that site re-instate costs in the realm of $6-9k per site. SEQ Properties has waived this requirement for departing tenants.
c) We are engaging with the QLD State Government Department of Housing and Public Works who are in dialogue with several residents to find alternate accommodation.
Statement from Queensland Government
The owner has a responsibility to ensure that long-term residents have appropriate accommodation.
While the Queensland Government is providing a safety net for affected residents, this does not alter the fact that the owner has a moral duty to long-term residents.
The responsibility to inform residents of any change in conditions lies with the owner.
The Government will not rest in assisting permanent residents who are losing leases due to the actions of the caravan park.
The Department of Housing will assist every resident where necessary to find alternative accommodation.
The land tenure change from leasehold to freehold has not changed the use of the land, however these decisions by the owner could equally have occurred while the property was under leasehold, due to the action of the Newman Government.
We have acted to ensure that the covenant guarantees the land remains as a caravan park and meets heritage considerations.
The Newman Government removed any condition regarding permanent residency in the caravan park in 2014.
The lessee subsequently applied for a conversion to freehold in May 2014.
A Deed of Grant was issued to convert Lot 764 (one of 3 lots under lease) to freehold, following consultation with the then Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
As we have stated the covenant ensures the land remains as a caravan park and meets heritage considerations.
The Newman Government as with many issues in Queensland, has left its legacy.