The Tenants' Union of NSW publishes two free newsletters for land lease community residents and advocates — Outasite and Outasite Lite. These contain useful articles and up-to-date information on a broad range of issues relating to land lease community living and the law.
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Pictured: Ken Beilby (Principal Solicitor, Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre) and Margaret Reckless
On 9 January 2019 the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) handed down the decision regarding electricity usage charges in Reckless v Silva Portfolios Pty Ltd t/as Ballina Waterfront Village and Tourist Park (No. 2)  NSWCATCD 59.
Many operators and commentators have cited the latest ‘Reckless’ decision as being a defining and binding decision. As we have stated previously, that view is mistaken. It is possible that some of the confusion has arisen because of the history of ‘Reckless’, which is long and complex.
In this issue of Outasite Lite we look at the history of the ‘Reckless’ dispute, the latest decision (‘Reckless No. 2’) and the expert witness report that was provided in evidence by the operator.Read More
Pictured: Members of the Residential Parks Forum (left to right) Charles Dalgleish, Don Rose, Julie Lee, Mary Preston, Sandy Gilbert, Jean MacLean, Di Evans, Ian Finlayson, Jock Plimmer, Graham Byrne, Peter Reberger – see story 'Forum turns 20!' below.
We are approaching the end of another year and have reached the third anniversary of the commencement of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (the Act). Looking back over 2018 it is difficult to see past electricity usage charges because without doubt that has been the biggest issue of the year.
When we entered 2018 the Tenants’ Union of NSW (TU) had been working on electricity usage charges for 18 months however this year we saw the biggest developments. Electricity usage charges are not fully settled but as we approach 2019 we are hopeful that home owners on embedded networks are in for a brighter future.
When we published ‘Outasite’ in July 2018 the decision of the NCAT Appeal Panel in Reckless v Silva Portfolios Pty Ltd (Reckless) had been appealed to the Supreme Court of NSW. The case was heard on 17 August and the decision handed down on 4 September. Justice Davies dismissed the operator’s appeal and agreed with the Appeal Panel that section 77(3) of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act means an operator cannot charge more for the use of electricity than their supplier charges them.
This time the operator did not appeal and the meaning of section 77(3) is therefore settled. What is not settled is how a home owner’s usage charges should be calculated.Read More
With the commencement of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (the Act) the method of calculating consumption charges for electricity, gas and water changed. The Tenant’s Union has highlighted the change through articles and a report. We have also held discussions with home owners, Tenant Advocates, the NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWON) and NSW Fair Trading to explain that operators should not and cannot charge more than they are charged by their utility providers.
The majority of operators buy electricity at significantly reduced prices yet they charge home owners at the highest rate – the standing offer price published by the local area retailer. If home owners are charged correctly many would see considerable reductions in their power bills.
On the whole, since the Act commenced, operators have failed to change the way they calculate utility usage charges. Through Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services the Tenants’ Union has been advising and assisting home owners to take up the issue of electricity charges with operators. When negotiations failed to bring change, some home owners made applications to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Margaret Reckless was one of those home owners and when she received an adverse decision, she appealed.Read More
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