Land Lease Communities and your Rights, Responsibilities and Respect

When you’re downsizing and facing a number of decisions for the next stage of your life, there’s one seniors living option which is a more simple, transparent and affordable choice that just makes sense. 

The land lease ownership model allows you to own your own home and lease the land, which is supported via government regulations and legislation with strong levels of protection for both home owner and operator, fostering confidence and respect within the community.

General Counsel for the NSW Land Lease Living Industry Association, Bob Browne, is a solicitor with extensive experience in strata and community scheme developments and the land lease industry, helping to deliver the next level in lifestyle living.

The work Bob and his team has carried out has had a major influence in the reform of the legislation and regulation for land lease communities, responsible for leading the public debate and the management of the Parliamentary process and implementation of the laws dating from 1986 through to the most recent Residential Land Lease Communities Act of 2013.

“The most important government recommendation we made was to have land lease living recognised as something different to the traditional land lord and tenant relationship.

“We wanted to make sure there was recognition of the financial contribution by the operator, but also a significant financial contribution by the home owner, who will lease the land.

“That relationship makes sure that the legislation protects the rights and obligations of both the operator (they operate now and into the future with a successful land lease community) and from the home owner’s point of view (the recognition that they pay for the right to be there and are also protected by security of tenure).

“This was the most important part, so home owners can be sure that if they’re going to make that investment, they do have a long term security of tenure,” Bob explains.

At the start of the process to enter a community you purchase of a home and a disclosure statement is provided for signing which sets out what the details are of the community, the facilities, the site, what utilities are provided and the financial arrangements in paying the site fees and use of utilities.

“If you choose to move ahead, you enter into a site agreement which is a reflection of key terms in the disclosure statement and sets out the rights and obligations between the operator and home owner and the role within your community.

“The agreement can’t be terminated as a matter of course or just at a whim of the operator. You have the protection legislation that ensures your ongoing right to tenure as prescribed by the relevant land lease community legislation.

“There is a provision in the law which allows the operator to develop it for some other purpose than a land lease community. However, if a developer did want to change the use of the land for some other purpose, as an example, to develop units, it is a fairly significant, lengthy and costly process to go through satisfying council requirements, obtaining development consent, providing every home owner at least 12 months’ notice, assisting with re-accommodating them to another location, covering all the costs for relocating the homes and utilities services, transportation, reconnecting and landscaping, providing a detailed and fair framework regarding compensation.

“It’s a fairly rigid process that is designed to make sure the home owners are protected and one would think if a developer has invested a few million dollars today they’ve committed themselves into a long term commitment as a residential land lease community,” Bob assures.

There is an easy process to exit with the opportunity for the home owner to sell up, get the capital gain out of the sale of the home and move on to some other living arrangements with no exit fees to pay.

For more independent advice, you can read more about land lease living by visiting www.landleaseliving.com.au