The Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 does not set the rent levels at residential parks.
Most residential parks are commercial enterprises. As such, their fees are determined by market forces, location, facilities, establishment costs, park size, mortgage payments, local government rates and charges, wages and other operating costs.
However, the Act does establish procedures for increasing and, in some cases, decreasing rent.
Paying site rent
You can pay your rent by one of the approved methods stated in the Act, at a place stated in the site agreement.
Approved methods of payment include:
- deposit to a financial institution account nominated by the park owner
- credit card
- deduction from pay, pension or other benefit
- another method agreed on between the parties.
Both parties can also agree in writing to vary the payment method.
The park owner must give the home owner a rent receipt if you pay by cash and if you request one when paying by cheque.
If you make electronic payments, they must give you a site rent record within 7 days of requesting one.
Increasing site rent
When you enter into a site agreement, ensure that the park owner includes the site rent amount and the method of increasing the rent in the agreement. However, the park owner may also increase your site rent outside the terms of your site agreement.
The park owner may also apply to Queensland Civil and Administrative (QCAT) for an order increasing your site rent outside the terms of your site agreement if the increase is necessary to cover significant increases in operational costs, unforseen significant repair costs and significant facility upgrades.
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 your site agreement.
A 'market review of site rent' is a review of site rent the outcome of which is decided by comparing the site rent with 1 or both of the following:
(a) the site rent payable for a site in 1 or more residential parks, or
(b) the rent payable for other residential accomodation.
However, a park owner 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, if the agreement does not already include a market review clause.
A park owner must not threaten, intimidate or pressure you to agree to a proposed increase in site rent or to refrain from making an application to QCAT seeking a review of the site rent.
Increases in accordance with a site agreement
If the park owner wishes to increase the rent in accordance with the site agreement, they must notify you in writing at least 28 days before the increase is due.
The notice should state:
- the increased rent amount
- the date you must pay the increase
- how they calculated the increase
- the procedure you may follow if you think the increase is excessive including how to apply to QCAT (within 28 days of receiving the notice) for an order.
Increases outside the terms of a site agreement
If the park owner wishes to increase the rent outside of the site agreement terms, they must notify you in writing at least 2 months before the proposed increase date.
The notice must state:
- the proposed increase amount
- the proposed commencement date
- the reason for the increase
- that you must respond in writing within 28 days of receiving the notice indicating that you agree or disagree with the proposed increase.
A park owner:
- may only increase site rent based on '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, unforseen significant repair costs and significant facility upgrades.
If you agree to the proposed increase, you must pay the increase from the proposed date. If you do not respond in writing within 28 days, the park owner can assume that you have not agreed to the proposed increase.
If you do not agree to the proposed increase, the park owner can apply to QCAT for an order about the proposed increase.
QCAT may reduce, set aside or confirm the proposed increase, or make other appropriate orders.
Decreasing site rent
You may apply to QCAT seeking a reduction in the site rent.
You can do this when the amenity or standard of the residential park's common areas and communal facilities have decreased substantially, or if the park owner withdraws a communal facility or service that they provided when your site agreement commenced.
You may also seek a reduction in site rent when a communal facility or service as described in advertising, or in a another document made available to you before you entered into the site agreement, has not been provided in the park.
A park owner may have to reduce your rent if:
- a utility charge included in the site rent becomes separately metered and you have to pay separately for the use of the utility
- a utility stops being available to you through no fault of your own.