Rental crisis: ‘Where are they meant to go?’

Permanent residential camp sites were listed for EOI on social media at $200 a week in Maryborough, Queensland. Picture: Facebook

A man offering desperate families cheap sites to live on in the midst of the housing crisis has been knocked back by a mountain of red tape designed to protect tenants.

Mark Schmerse of 3 Wolves River Park put out a call for “expressions of interest to help out with the cost of living and rental crisis” offering sites for families to camp on at $200 a week.

“We have had phenomenal interest,” he said. “(I) was not sure how we would go but I do know times are ridiculously tough for sooooo many families. I heard a report that over 50 people apply at permanent caravan sites per day and are turned away! Where are they meant to go? Bad times indeed.”

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Images put up as part of the call for expressions of interest in $200 a week camp sites. Picture: Facebook

But a local government spokesman warned it was illegal to rent out camping spots on residential property, even if it was to ease the housing crisis

A Fraser Coast Regional Council spokesperson said “there is no planning approval for this type of use and the activity proposed would be unlawful”.

“Council understands and appreciates the challenges in finding rental accommodation in our region and many other areas throughout the country, but we strongly discourage anyone from taking up this offer as it would amount to unlawful use of this land.”

“We’ll be investigating this further and contacting the property owner to remind them of their obligations under Council’s Planning Scheme.”

The idea was to open up vacant land to self-contained campervans in Maryborough, Queensland. Picture: Facebook

The spokesperson encouraged anyone considering renting their property out to campers for long or short-term stays to get in touch with council’s customer service line to speak with relevant departments which could include planning and growth, public health and safety or development compliance and plumbing service.

A Residential Tenancies Authority spokesperson said the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 outlined the rights and responsibilities of anyone involved in residential renting in Queensland.

“Tents are not defined in or protected under the Act. However, under the Act a moveable dwelling tenancy agreement (Form 18b) is used to rent out a caravan, moveable dwelling or caravan site.”

Images put up on social media of the site. Picture: Facebook

Mr Schmerse says they are still in the planning stages of the project. Picture: Facebook

“The RTA understands the search for a rental property can be challenging, especially in a tight rental market. We encourage tenants to be vigilant in their search and follow steps to protect themselves from rental scams.”

Under the Act, residential tenancy agreements must comply with all health and safety laws, outline the level of access the tenant has to the property and its facilities, say which utilities are included and how they should be paid, plus dwellings must be fit to live in.

The spokesperson said “local councils will also have individual bylaws outlining whether or not property owners can rent out their private land and for which types of dwellings”.

“Whether or not an arrangement will fall under the Act will depend on the arrangement between the parties and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If tenants aren’t sure whether the Act applies to them, they can make an urgent application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a determination.”

Fraser Coast Regional Council says it will be contacting the property owner to remind them of their obligations under Council’s Planning Scheme. Picture: Facebook

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The man behind the offer remains determined to get the right approvals in place for the initiative, with several others also expressing interest in how to do this on their own land.

“I have already spoken with council. For long term stays we need to have a contract in place with the RTA,” he told The Courier-Mail.

The rest of the sites, he said, were weekend campers “which we are allowed nine per site without official approval”.

“It is self accessed. We have two blocks side-by-side which means we can legally have 18 sites.”

“Form 18b Moveable Dwelling Tenancy Agreement, Form 17b pocket-guide-for-tenants-caravan-parks, plus need to give copy of park rules.”

“But yes we are still in planning stage hence why we are looking for expressions of interest only”.


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