Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 794 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
We will also ensure, through the sale agreement, security of tenure for the residents, so that they know, possibly for the first time for some of the very long-stay residents, that they do have some security of tenure. While the permits are normally for a period of three weeks, I understand that some tenants have been there for as long as 17 years. We appreciate that we are talking about people's homes.
Mr Wood asked earlier for some assurance on the lease. I can assure him that the lease will reflect the current usage and the lease will specify that the site is to be used for a caravan park site. That is what we want.
Mr Wood: And only a caravan park site?
MR SMYTH: Only a caravan site. In order to render it attractive to a purchaser to continue to use it as a caravan park site, the lease, which is currently in preparation, will reflect the current usage for the site as a mobile home park with a maximum of 102 mobile home sites. It is possible to vary a lease. We all know that. We will issue the lease with that intention. It will specify 102 sites for the use of mobile home residents. Tenants here today might not be aware of the full process. People can vary leases. Under the Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991 somebody could seek to vary their lease and, if successful, would have to pay a change of use charge, but under the Land Act anybody who objects to such a proposal to vary a lease would have the opportunity to appeal to the AAT.
Any such lease change would also need to be consistent with the current broadacre land use policy under the Territory Plan, and then there is an overlay that is extended to broad use of the caravan park site. It is our intention that the new owner purchase the site and run it as a caravan park site. We will secure that through the sale agreement. Any change would have to be consistent with the Territory Plan. Given the time that that would take, residents of the mobile home park are likely to have as much notice as any normal private tenant would under the Residential Tenancies Act.
As part of our commitment to consultation on this matter, ACT Housing informed residents of this decision by hand delivering letters on Tuesday, 16 March 1999. The process will take some 21/2 months. ACT Housing has now conducted two information sessions as an extension of the consultation process with residents and has agreed to provide detailed responses to residents' questions and to provide this information in person prior to the tendering process commencing. I have extended the offer, and I extend it to Mr Wood and Mr Rugendyke, who have taken an interest in this matter, to meet with tenants. I will come to their place or they can come to mine, and we will continue to discuss their concerns with them. A full list of questions was received earlier this afternoon, and we are now working to answer those questions and any of the issues that have been raised in the meetings.
ACT Housing has advised residents that, on the basis that the sale would be by open tender, any or all of the existing residents are entitled to submit a tender. They were given notice of this opportunity in advance. In addition, residents who feel that they may qualify for public housing have been advised of how they can go about registering with the applicant services centre, and to date some interest has been shown in that option.