If the park owner believes a home owner has abandoned a manufactured home, they can apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to make an abandonment order.
An abandonment order declares that the home owner has abandoned the home and specifies the day the home was considered abandoned.
Once QCAT makes the abandonment order, the owner is considered to have abandoned the home and their site agreement is terminated.
In deciding whether to make the abandonment order, QCAT may consider whether:
- any site rent payable under the agreement is unpaid
- the home is unoccupied and neglected
- the agreement has already been terminated
- someone is collecting the home owner's mail
- reports from the home owner's neighbours or other people about the owner's whereabouts or absence
- utilities supplied to or used at the home have been disconnected
- the home owner's personal effects have been removed from the home.
As well as an abandonment order, QCAT can also:
- authorise the park owner to sell the home and any of the home owner's personal effects that remain in the home or on the site
- order the home owner to pay them any amount of rent owing up to the day their agreement is terminated.
Park owner obligations
They must not sell the home or the home owner's personal effects:
- unless QCAT authorises the sale
- to a prohibited person (park owner, employee or relative of the park owner), unless QCAT authorises the sale.
If QCAT grants the order, the park owner does not incur any liability for selling the home, or selling or removing personal belongings from the home or site, if they act honestly and without negligence.
Anyone who buys the home or belongings acquires a clear title to them. This means that anyone else's interest in these items ends unless the buyer does not act honestly in the purchase.
Distributing sale proceeds
The park owner must distribute the proceeds from the sale of an abandoned manufactured home in this order:
- Pay the reasonable costs of selling the home, or removing, storing and selling the personal effects.
- Pay any amount under a security interest registered for the home or personal effects.
- Pay any relevant termination payment owed to them.
- Pay the balance to the home owner or, if the home owner's whereabouts is unknown, to the public trustee within 10 days of the sale.
If the park owner appoints a public trustee to receive the balance, they must pay this amount into the unclaimed money fund kept under the Public Trustee Act 1978.
Once the public trustee pays the amount to the fund, the park owner may apply to QCAT to receive payment for loss of rent money that they would have received between the agreement termination date and the date they sold the home, or sold/removed belongings from the park, from the money paid into the fund.
When considering the application, QCAT would look at whether they:
- acted as soon as reasonably practicable to sell the home or belongings
- took all reasonable steps to reduce their loss of site rent that would have been paid if the agreement were still in force.