Park dwellers told of rights

ABOUT 150 people, mostly elderly permanent caravanpark dwellers, attended a seminar at Tweed Heads yesterday explaining new reforms strengthening their rights.

The seminar at the Tweed Heads Community Centre was the first of a series of 23 across NSW organised by the Office of Fair Trading and addressed by its Sydneybased manager of property policy, Peter Berry.

Changes to the state's residential-parks legislation, which come into effect on April 10, will affect 930 parks including 36 in the Tweed.

The changes include: being given detailed information about aspects of living arrangements before moving in, protection from false and misleading information, protection against unwarranted loss of tenancy due to park redevelopment, adequate notice and compensation when tenancy comes to an end, fair treatment in disputes over the sale of a home and a range of dispute-resolution options through the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT).

A new offence has been established for park owners disclosing false or misleading information to residents with a maximum penalty of $2200.

Mr Berry said one of the most important reforms was the protection of residents who were ill and had to leave the park for long periods for medical, nursing or domestic care.

Owners now also have to give 12 months notice - rather than six months - for termination of leases due to redevelopment or change of use.

Tweed MP Neville Newell said Tweed Heads was chosen for the first seminar due to its high number of residential parks and keen interest in some of the reforms, including the new power for Fair Trading to apply to the Supreme Court to appoint an administrator to a park where the residents' well-being was adversely affected by the park owner or manager.

"I have led a vigorous campaign to have this action taken over the Banora Point Caravan Park and currently an application to that effect is before the Supreme Court," he said.

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