Fight for home owners in parks

FAYE Urquhart, Dawn Thomas and June Newitt are fighting a big battle with little help.

The three retirees, all volunteers, seek changes to the State’s Residential Parks Act to help the many people who cannot help themselves.

The trio is the president, treasurer and secretary of the Northern Alliance of Park Residents Association (NAPRA) of NSW and they say the burgeoning popularity of residential parks specialising in homes for people over 50 means their fight has never been more important.

NAPRA survives on members’ fees of $12 each a year, and the goodwill of volunteers like Faye, Dawn and June, but now NAPRA is looking for some financial support to continue its good work.

Mrs Urquhart said she wanted to see a number of changes to the Act, like accreditation for park managers, mandatory private mail boxes for residents and the insertion of a harassment and intimidation clause.

She also wants park owners required to prove the fairness of rent increases above the consumer price index.

At present, residents have to prove rent increases are unreasonable, a process which involves the resident preparing a long and complex submission to the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

Mrs Thomas said while park residents bought their homes and were home owners, councils did not recognise them because they did not own the land their homes stood on. This meant residents had few rights and could find themselves at the mercy of park owners and managers in disputes over matters like building extensions or alterations.

Many residents were daunted by the difficulties of the process and some, especially elderly or frail residents, were easily intimidated.

The NAPRA volunteers represent residents in discussion with park owners, help them prepare submissions and advocate for them at the tribunal, clocking up thousands of kilometres in driving, train and air travel and hundreds of dollars in the costs of printing ink, paper and telephone calls.

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