caravan parks - Tenants Union of Victoria

caravan parks

All Victorian caravan park residents have legal rights. This handy guide outlines the rights of Victorian caravan park residents. It also provides useful tips on how to make sure your caravan park or caravan owner respects these rights.

The Tenants Union of Victoria is a free and confidential tenant advice service. You can call the Tenants Union Caravan Park Residents’ Advice Service for advice from anywhere in Victoria. If you can’t afford a lengthy STD call, we can call you back. If you need an interpreter, we can call you back.

Tenants Union Caravan Park Residents’ Advice Service
Phone: 9411 1444 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Write: PO Box 234 Fitzroy 3065 or email us

The Tenants Union can:

  • give you legal advice about your caravan park residency
  • help you fill in forms relating to your residency
  • help you at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal), which handles disputes between residents and caravan owners, and park owner/managers


Who is a caravan park resident?

In the eyes of the law, you are regarded as a caravan park ‘resident’ only if:

  • you have signed a residency agreement (lease) with your caravan park owner, or
  • you have occupied your caravan or site for at least 60 continuous days as your main or only residence

If either of these applies to you, you have legal rights that don’t extend to holidaymakers or people who are just passing through the caravan park. For example, you can legally insist that your caravan owner make necessary repairs.

If you don’t have a written agreement or you haven’t been in the park for at least 60 days, you may still have rights under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 (Vic). Contact your nearest Community Legal Centre for more information (you can find your nearest centre by phoning the Federation of Community Legal Centres on 9654 2204).

Starting your residency

Rent or hiring charges

Caravan park owners charge rent. The owner of a caravan is paid a hiring charge. Sometimes the park owner and the caravan owner are the same person, so the rent and hiring charge are combined.

At the start of your residency, the park owner/manager cannot ask for more than 14 days rent in advance. A caravan owner cannot ask for more than 28 days hiring charge in advance. If they insist, contact the Tenants Union for advice.

Always get a written receipt for any money you pay the owner/manager and keep your receipts in a safe place

Bonds

The park owner/manager can only ask you to pay a bond if you are entering into a written residency agreement. The maximum bond is equal to 28 days rent.

You cannot be asked to pay a bond until you have moved in.

If you can’t afford the bond, the Office of Housing may be able to help with a bond loan. Ask for a Bond Loan Application form at your local Area Housing Office (look under Human Services/Housing Services in the White Pages Business & Government telephone directory or contact the Tenants Union).

Some caravan park owners refuse to enter into residency agreements with residents, yet still ask for an amount of money that is equal to a bond. In these situations they tend to call this amount something other than a bond, for example a ‘key deposit’. If this happens to you, contact the Tenants Union for advice before paying any money.

If you sign a residency agreement and pay a bond, your park or caravan owner must give you a Bond Lodgement form. Once you have signed the form they must lodge your bond with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority. If your park owner/manager requires a bond but refuses to give you a Bond Lodgement form, contact the Tenants Union.

Other documents & information

At the time that you move in, the park owner/manager must give you the following documents and information:

  • a Statement of Rights and Duties (booklet from Consumer Affairs Victoria titled Caravan Parks, A guide for Residents, Owners and Managers)
  • a copy of the park rules
  • the park owner/manager’s name, address and phone number (in case urgent repairs are needed)
  • if there is an agent acting for them, the agent’s name, address and phone number
  • whether the agent can authorise urgent repairs and the amount they can authorise
  • a statement that tells you:
    • the amount of extra rent or hiring charges they will charge you for visitors
    • the amount they will charge you to store or remove your caravan
    • the amount they will charge you if they sell your caravan for you

If any of the above information changes, the park owner/manager must inform you in writing within 7 days.

During your residency

Access

Your caravan park owner/manager must allow you:

  • 24-hour vehicle access to your site
  • 24-hour access to the park and the communal bathroom and toilet facilities
  • access during ‘reasonable’ hours to recreational areas, laundry and other communal facilities

Caravan park owners can charge you a reasonable fee for a key or device that allows your car and caravan to get to your site.

Electricity, gas, water & sewerage

You do not have to pay for electricity, gas, water and sewerage unless your site is separately metered (a separate meter is one that measures the usage at your site only). If your site is not separately metered, the park owner/manager is responsible for payment.

If you believe you have paid for services for which the park owner/manager was responsible, they may be required to repay you. Contact the Tenants Union for advice.

Maintenance & repairs

You are responsible for keeping your caravan and your site clean and tidy. Also, you must not install any fixtures or structures (such as an annexe) without the park owner/manager’s written consent.

The park owner/manager is responsible for maintaining both the caravan park and any caravans in the park belonging to them. The 6 Tenants Union of Victoria caravan owner is responsible for maintaining your caravan. If repairs are needed, the steps you need to follow depend on whether the repair is urgent or non-urgent.

Urgent repairs

The following problems are considered urgent:

  • a burst water service
  • a blocked or broken toilet
  • a serious roof leak
  • a gas leak
  • a dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm or fire damage
  • a breakdown of essential water, hot water, cooking, heating or laundering services
  • a breakdown of gas, electricity or water supply
  • a breakdown in water appliances supplied by the owner/manager that will lead to a substantial amount of water being wasted
  • any fault or damage that makes the caravan unsafe or not secure

If you have one of the above problems your first step is to ask the park or caravan owner to fix it.

If they cannot be contacted or they don’t fix the problem within 24 hours, contact the Tenants Union.

Non-urgent repairs

If the problem is non-urgent, send your park or caravan owner a Notice to Owner of Caravan or Caravan Park. This gives your park or caravan owner 14 days to fix the problem. This form is available from Consumer Affairs Victoria 1300 55 81 81 (local call charge) and the Tenants Union. If the problem is not fixed within 14 days, contact the Tenants Union.

Do not use your rent money to pay for repairs. You must keep paying rent as usual or you could end up in rent arrears, which could lead to eviction.

Park rules

The park owner/manager must give you a copy of the park rules at the beginning of your residency. It is their responsibility to make sure that park rules apply to all residents, not just some.

The park owner/manager can change the rules, but they must give you 7 days written notice of any change. The notice must also be on the correct form.

If you think any of the rules are unfair, you can apply to the Tribunal to have them removed. You should obey the park rules until the Tribunal makes its decision.

‘Quiet enjoyment’

Caravan park owners/managers must avoid disturbing your peace and quiet. For example, they can’t mow the lawns at 6 o’clock in the morning.

At the same time, residents and visitors to the caravan park must not act in a manner that disturbs the peace and quiet of other residents or their visitors.

Privacy

Caravan park owners/managers should respect your privacy. However, it is legal for them to enter your caravan or site if:

  • you are due to move out and they need to show the caravan or site to a new resident
  • the caravan is due to be sold or valued and they need to show it to a buyer or lender
  • they need to carry out repairs
  • they believe you are using the caravan for an illegal purpose

The park owner/manager must give you 24 hours written notice of their intention to enter your site or caravan. The Notice of Entry must be delivered by post or given to you in person between 8am and 6pm (they can’t just slip it
under the door).

Unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ that comes under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, the owner/manager can only enter your caravan or site with a Notice of Entry or when you have given your agreement.

Entry is only allowed between 8am and 6pm and not on public holidays. If the park owner/manager acts improperly or damages any of your property, you may be able to apply to the Tribunal for compensation.

If you believe your privacy is not being respected you should contact the Tenants Union.

Breach of Duty Notices

If the park owner/manager interferes with your rights as a resident, you can serve them with a Breach of Duty Notice. Likewise, if you ignore your responsibilities as a resident, the same notice can be served on you. If you receive a Breach of Duty Notice or you want to serve a notice on the park owner/manager, contact the Tenants Union.

Rent & hiring charges

Rent arrears

If you owe 7 or more day’s rent or hiring charge, your park or caravan owner can give you a 7-day Notice to Vacate. The notice must allow you 7 or more days to pay the rent arrears. If you don’t pay by this date, the park or caravan owner can apply to the Tribunal for a Possession Order. If the Possession Order is given, you can be evicted.
It is illegal for the park or caravan owner to take or dispose of your property because you are behind in payments.

It is illegal for the park or caravan owner to personally evict you. Only the police can evict you, and even then they must be acting on a Possession Order and a Warrant of Possession from the Tribunal.

Rent & hiring charge increases

Park and caravan owners can only increase the rent or hiring charge once every 6 months and they must give you 60 days written notice. The notice must be in the correct form or it is not valid.
If you think the increase is unfair or invalid, contact the Tenants Union as soon as possible

Extra services

If services at your caravan park have been reduced without any reduction in your rent or hiring charge, you may be able to apply to the Tribunal for compensation and/or a reduction in your rent or hiring charge. Contact the Tenants Union for advice.

Rent & hiring charges for visitors

The owner/manager can charge you extra rent or hiring charges for visitors staying with you. If you think this amount is unfair, you can apply to the Tribunal to challenge the extra fee. Contact the Tenants Union for advice.

Ending your residency

When you want to leave

If you want to vacate the caravan or the site, you must give the owner/manager at least 7 days written notice in the form of a Notice of Intention to Vacate. The notice must be signed and dated by you.

If the caravan is unfit for habitation or has been destroyed or damaged to such an extent that it’s unsafe, you can serve an immediate Notice of Intention to Vacate. If you want to serve this kind of notice, contact the Tenants Union for advice.

When the owner/manager wants you to leave

Notices to Vacate

There are several different Notices to Vacate, ranging from immediate to 120-day notices. The amount of notice given depends on the reason for the Notice to Vacate being served.

If you receive a Notice to Vacate and you don’t want to move out or you need more time, contact the Tenants Union as soon as possible.

You do not have to move out by the date on the notice unless you want to. If your park or caravan owner wants you to vacate, they must first apply to the Tribunal for a Possession Order.

it is illegal for the park or caravan owner to personally evict you. Only the police can evict
you, and even then they must be acting on a Possession Order and Warrant of Possession from the Tribunal.

Notice to Leave

A Notice to Leave is not an eviction notice. The park owner/manager can give you (or a visitor of yours) a Notice to Leave if they have reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a serious act of violence or that you are a danger to others in the caravan park.

A Notice to Leave suspends your residency for 2 full business days. (A business day is any day other than a public holiday or a Saturday or Sunday.) You must leave immediately and you cannot return to the caravan park during this
time, even to collect clothes or other personal belongings.

After serving you with a Notice to Leave, the park owner/manager may make an urgent application to the Tribunal to have you evicted. If you receive a Notice to Leave you should contact the Tenants Union as soon as possible.

Transfer of residency rights

If you own your caravan and you want to sell it, you can transfer your caravan park residency rights to the purchaser by using a Transfer of Residency Rights form. Consumer Affairs Victoria 1300 55 81 81 (local call charge) can send you the Transfer of Residency Rights form.

Sale of caravans

At the start of your residency the park owner/manager must give you a statement which tells you the amount they will charge you if they sell your caravan for you.

Bond recovery

If you have paid a bond and the park owner/manager wants to claim some or all of it, contact the Tenants Union for advice. The park owner/manager has 10 business days from when you move out to make a claim against your bond and you have a right to dispute their claim. If the 10 days have passed and they haven’t made a claim, they must refund your bond in full.

Never sign a blank Bond Claim form.

Abandoned goods

If you leave goods behind, the owner/manager cannot dispose of your goods unless they get an Abandonment Order from the Tribunal.

The owner/manager cannot keep your goods because you owe rent. If you are having any trouble getting goods or personal documents back, contact the Tenants Union.

The Tribunal

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hears disputes between residents and park or caravan owners. The Tenants Union can help you apply to the Tribunal and/or prepare for a Tribunal hearing.

At the time of printing, a Tribunal application costs $33.30 but if you are on a low income, you can apply to have the fee waived.

If you want to apply to the Tribunal, or you receive a Notice of Hearing to attend the Tribunal, contact the Tenants Union for advice. We can help you prepare for your hearing, and in some cases, we can also represent residents.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
55 King Street Melbourne 3000
Phone: 9628 9800
Freecall: 1800 133 055
Fax 9628 9822

This information is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

 

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Tenants Union of Victoria Ltd ACN 081 348 227 | Published: November 2013
Tenants help 03 9416 2577 | 55 Johnston Street Fitzroy | tuv.org.au
The Tenants Union of Victoria acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

The Tenants Union of Victoria acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.