The Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 regulates and promotes fair trading practices in residential parks.
The Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Amendment Act 2010 received Royal Assent on 5 November 2010. The changes in this amendment Act aim to strengthen consumer protection while balancing the needs and supporting the continued growth of the residential parks industry.
This legislation applies when a person owns their manufactured home, but rents the land it is positioned on from a residential park owner.
A manufactured home is defined as 'a structure other than a caravan or tent that has the character of a dwelling house and is designed to be able to be moved from one position to another and is not permanently attached to the land.'
This legislation does not apply to the occupants of tents and caravans.
Please note: this is general information about changes to legislation—it is not a comprehensive statement of the law. You are encouraged to obtain independent legal or financial counselling advice if you are unsure of how these laws apply to your situation.
What changes have taken effect?
The following summary outlines which changes took effect when:
5 November 2010
- Special terms and park rules
- Site rent
- Termination of site agreements
- Converted caravans
19 November 2010
- Site rent
- Fixed-term site agreements
1 March 2011
- Site agreements
- Site rent
- Record of residential parks
- Home owners committee
- Technical and minor changes to the legislation
What are the changes and how will they affect me?
Special terms and park rules
The changes in the amendment Act allow for a Regulation to be developed that prohibits particular types of special terms in site agreements and park rules. These could include special terms and park rules that are unfair and place an unreasonable burden on home owners. Once a term has been prohibited, it will be void in all site agreements (both existing and new).
Park owners who include prohibited special terms and park rules in site agreements or attempt to enforce prohibited terms may face a penalty.
We will consult with home owners and park owners to identify the types of special terms and park rules that should be prohibited by the Regulation.
These changes will take effect following the development of the Regulation.
A site agreement allows you to position your home on a residential park owner's land (according to the terms of the site agreement) until the agreement is terminated under the legislation.
While the legislation currently includes a number of requirements about the content and presentation of site agreements, the changes included in the amendment Act introduce a number of new requirements to help home owners and park owners better understand their rights and responsibilities.
The changes do not require park owners and home owners to rewrite existing site agreements.
Any site agreements entered into on or after 1 March 2011 must meet the following additional requirements.
New site agreements must:
- be easily legible
- be at least 12 point font
- be clearly expressed in plain language
- state a business hours contact phone number for the park owner or manager
- state how and when the site rent can be varied—they must also include that, under legislation, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) may (in certain circumstances) make an order to increase the site rent on application by the park owner or reduce the site rent on application by the home owner.
These changes took effect on 1 March 2011.
QCAT will continue to have jurisdiction to resolve disputes between home owners and park owners about rights and responsibilities under a site agreement.
Please note: For most people, purchasing a manufactured home and entering into a site agreement is a major lifestyle and financial decision. It is important to get legal advice to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities before entering into a site agreement.
Fixed-term site agreements
The changes in the amendment Act prohibit a park owner from establishing an end date for a site agreement before or at the same time as the site agreement is entered into. The changes do not prevent park owners and home owners from mutually agreeing to terminate the site agreement at a later time.
Park owners who contravene the new requirements regarding termination of agreements may face a penalty.
These changes took effect on 19 November 2010.
The changes in the amendment Act improve the operation of the legislation with respect to site rent variations. You can apply to QCAT for an order reducing the site rent payable if a communal facility or service described by the park owner in pre-contractual advertising or negotiations has not been provided. This change took effect on 5 November 2010.
There are a number of other changes with respect to site rent.
A park owner:
- may only increase site rent based on a 'market review' if you agree, or if this type of increase is specifically provided for in the site agreement
- may only apply to QCAT for an increase in site rent outside the terms of a site agreement to cover significant increases in operational costs, unforeseen significant repair costs and significant facility upgrades
- may, without the consent of the seller or buyer, include a market review clause into an existing site agreement if and when the current home owner sells their home and assigns the site agreement to a new home owner
- must not threaten, intimidate or pressure you to agree to a proposed increase in site rent or refrain from making an application to the QCAT seeking a review of site rent.
These changes took effect on 19 November 2010.
In addition, a park owner may be subject to a penalty if they do not state in a notice of increase in site rent (provided for in the site agreement) that you have the right to apply to QCAT within 28 days if you consider that the increase is excessive. This change took effect on 1 March 2011.
Termination of site agreements
The changes in the amendment Act allow QCAT to make new orders to help you if you're faced with termination of your site agreement.
When making a termination order, QCAT may postpone the termination date for up to 1 year or order the park owner to offer you another comparable site, provided one is available and you wish to remain in the park. This change took effect on 5 November 2010.
The occupation of caravans and tents in residential parks is not regulated by this legislation. The changes in the amendment Act clarify that caravans with structural additions and modifications (converted caravans) are not manufactured homes under this legislation.
However, converted caravan owners and residential park owners can voluntarily enter into a site agreement under the legislation. The changes in the amendment Act have no impact on existing site agreements between converted caravan owners and park owners.
QCAT cannot order parties to enter into a site agreement in relation to a converted caravan. However, existing converted caravan owners have a period of 3 years to apply to QCAT for an order for a site agreement if they believe that their home met the definition of a 'manufactured home' before the changes were made to the legislation. These changes took effect on 5 November 2010.
Record of residential parks
The changes in the amendment Act allow the Chief Executive of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation to establish a record of residential parks. Existing park owners will be required to provide the Chief Executive with the name and address of the park, and the number of manufactured home sites provided in the park by 30 May 2011.
Home owners committees
The changes in the amendment Act confirm that there is to be only one home owners' committee for a residential park. If more than one committee exists, the home owners should conduct an election among themselves to establish one committee within three months. This change took effect on 1 March 2011.
Technical and minor changes to the legislation
The following changes in the amendment Act further clarify and improve the operation of the legislation:
- If a utility is separately measured and charged by a park owner, the park owner must not charge you more than the actual cost of providing the utility service.
- Park owners must advise buyers, during the proposed assignment of the site agreement, how much site rent the seller is paying.
- If a park owner refuses to consent to the assignment of a site agreement, the park owner must provide the seller with written notice of the decision and inform the seller of the seller's right to apply to QCAT for an order if dissatisfied with the park owner's refusal.
- Park owners must advise you of any change to the business hours contact telephone number for the park owner (or park manager if applicable) within 7 days.
These changes take effect on 1 March 2011.