Member for Gosnells Chris Tallentire presented a speech to Parliament with concerns over the lease agreement between residents and owners past and present at the Riverside Gardens Estate lifestyle village in Gosnells two months ago.
Residents were in the public gallery when Mr Tallentire presented the grievance.
He said there had been no action from 2011 to 2016 and said the Department of Commerce were hopelessly under resourced and incapable of bringing dubious practises to court.
“I warned Commerce about the possible sale of the estate so why would they not take action to protect the interests of the many people who are owed the reimbursement of fees of $20,000 or $30,000 that were improperly charged?” he said.
Mr Tallentire said the estate’s previous owners Fourmi had increased rents and charges and pressured residents to sign waivers and renegotiate leases with a 30-year lease proposed instead of the current eight year rolling lease.
“A 30-year lease when many people are in their 70s is an outrageous situation,” he said.
“The government has allowed the Department of Commerce to be so under resourced that it cannot run reviews of important legislation, cannot draft amendments to that legislation and it cannot even look after vulnerable people who are being done over by powerful landlords like Fourmi.”
Department of Commerce acting commissioner for consumer protection David Hillyard said legal action was continuing against Fourmi, the former operators of Riverside Gardens Estate regarding their previous practises of charging fees to incoming residents.
“We believe these practises were in breach of the Residential Parks Long Stay Tenants Act 2006 and the Australian Consumer Law,” he said.
“Consumer Protection has been active in tackling the issues at Riverside Gardens Estate.
“We are hoping to get a legal determination against the former owners Fourmi sometime this year and we are working closely with the new owners who are acting in a positive manner.”
Riverside Gardens Estate was bought by Hampshire Villages in July 2016 and Hampshire Villages chief executive Frank Sharkey said following the purchase only a small number of residents expressed concerns about alleged representations made to them by Fourmi and about the complexity and potential ambiguity of the lease agreements they had previously signed.
“We have advised any resident that wishes to take up the new lease that they should obtain independent financial and legal advice,” he said.
“It should be noted that we have not yet signed any new lease agreements with any existing resident.
“We can confirm that we have had several discussions with Consumer Protection officers and they have indicated that they are very satisfied with our approach to the issues we have inherited.