Moral boost for van park residents

By LEONIE BRANN

PROPOSED new laws which will give more rights and greater security for people who live in caravan parks have been welcomed by residents of the troubled Banora Point caravan park.

But the laws have caused concern for the manager of Tweed's council-owned parks.

The changes, if approved, would force owners of residential caravan parks to have development approval for any change of use for the park before eviction notices are given to permanent residents.

They would extend the time for notice of removal from six months to one year, among other changes.

The amendments to the Residential Parks Act were introduced to Parliament this week and should be considered for approval by the upper house, the Legislative Council, later this week.

Long-term Banora Point Caravan Park resident Len Hogg, who has been fighting to have the rights of permanent caravan park residents' strengthened because of ongoing social problems at the park, said the changes if approved, would give residents more security after moves by Tweed Shire Council administrators this month, to close the problem park.

"Under the current legislation the park owner only needs to give us six months notice of eviction and he would only have to pay for our moving expenses if we moved to a new park within 300 kilometres.

"We would also have had to sought compensation for removal costs through the courts," Mr Hogg said.

"Now, if the amendments are approved we will be given more notice of eviction, a development application has to be approved before notices can be sent out and we will be compensated for our moving costs before we have to relocate."

But not everyone is happy with the proposed changes.

While moves to keep increases in tenants' rent in line with increases to the cost of living, has been welcomed by park tenants, the idea has caravan park managers worried.

Tweed Coast Holiday Parks executive manager Richard Adam, said this would in effect put a 'cap' on the rent to be paid by tenants and the income parks can get from tenancies, while the cost of operating such parks could increase.

He said the CPI rose by lower increments in country areas, and gave an example if the change was approved, how only a small increase in revenue from tenants' rents would not pay for blow outs in land taxes or council rates for caravan parks that, on the most part, are built in high land tax areas.

"If we don't get enough revenue to cover costs then we will have to close, which counters the idea of giving residents more security," Mr Adam said.



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