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Standard fact sheet.
Large print fact sheet.

Land lease community utilities 

In a land lease community it is common for the operator to re-supply utilities to residential sites within the community. The operator may ask you to pay them directly for any or all of the following:

  • electricity
  • gas
  • water
  • sewerage (but only if the local water supplier charges for this separately).

You can be asked to pay utility charges in the following ways:

  • as usage charges – this varies depending on how much you use
  • as service availability charges – that is, as fixed amounts.


When can I be charged for utilities? 

Before an operator can ask you to pay utility charges, two things need to have happened:

  1. the use of the particular utility on your site must be separately measured or metered
  2. you must have agreed to pay the particular charge under the terms of your site agreement. Note: utility charges are now standard terms for any agreements entered into after the new laws began on 1 November 2015.

If your site is not metered and the operator wants this to happen they must pay for installing the meter.

If you haven’t been paying a utility charge and the operator wants this to change, the operator must give you at least 14 days' written notice. There would need to be an agreed offset with your site fees. If you cannot agree, an application can be made to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve the dispute.

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Are there limits on utility usage charges? 

If you need to pay usage charges for utilities, an operator cannot charge more than you would pay if you were a direct residential customer of a local utility service provider. Check your local provider’s website to see what is the standard rate for usage.

With service availability charges, the operator cannot charge an individual home owner any more than the actual amount they have been billed themselves divided by the number of residential places, including holiday sites, in the community.

For electricity, the maximum service availability charge that you can be asked to pay is the service availability charge that you would have to pay if you were a small customer on a standard retail contract of the applicable local area retailer, unless the supply of electricity to your site is less than 60 amps. If the electricity supplied to your site is less than 60 amps a discount applies. Go to What if my electricity supply is not up to standard? for more information.

NCAT decision on charging of electricity in embedded networks at residential and land lease communities - appealed to the Supreme Court

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ("the Tribunal") Appeal Panel made a decision on 3 April 2018 that will be of interest to both residents and operators of these communities.

The decision relates to the following case, "Reckless v Silva Portfolios Pty Ltd trading as Ballina Waterfont Village & Tourist Park [2018] NSWCATAP 80", which decided how residents can be charged for electricity under section 77 of the residential land lease community laws. A copy of the decision is available from: NSWCATAP 80 

The Appeal Panel has also ordered that this matter be returned to the Consumer and Commercial Division of the Tribunal, to determine whether residents may be eligible for refunds on any electricity charges that they have already been paid.

Subsequently, the park owner (who is also the park operator) Silva Portfolios Pty Ltd, has appealed the Tribunal Appeal Panel decision to the NSW Supreme Court, and the matter is set to be heard on 17 August 2018.  The Court has stayed both the Tribunal appeal decision and the return to the Tribunal of the issue of whether refunds may be due.

Fair Trading is currently assessing the impact of this decision in liaison with stakeholders.

The maximum service availability charge you can be asked to pay for both water and sewerage service availability is $50 each calendar year.

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Am I entitled to a bill for utilities? 

An operator must give you an itemised account. This should set out what you are being asked to pay and how each amount has been calculated. Each operator can determine how often they send the bill (eg. monthly or quarterly).  

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How much time must I be given to pay? 

You must be given at least 21 days to pay the charges.

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What receipts should I receive? 

An operator must give you a receipt for any utility payments you make in person. If utility payments are made by another method, the operator only has to give you a receipt if you ask for one. A receipt for a utility payment must include:

  • the name and address of your community
  • your site number
  • your name
  • the amount paid
  • any amount you are in debit or credit as at the date of payment
  • the period covered by your payment
  • the date your payment was received.

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What if my electricity supply is not up to standard? 

Where the electricity being supplied to your site by the operator is less than 60 amps, the following service availability charge discount applies:

 Level of supply to site  Maximum service availability charge (SAC)
 less than 20 amps   20% of relevant local area retailer’s SAC
 20-29 amps   50% of relevant local area retailer’s SAC
 30-59 amps    70% of relevant local area retailer’s SAC

Where 60 or more amps are capable of being supplied, you are required to pay the full service availability charge (100% of the relevant local area retailer’s SAC). This applies even if your home is not capable of receiving this amount of supply, for example in the case of old style caravans.

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Can an operator charge late fees? 

Yes. If you do not pay by the due date, or if a payment for utilities you make is dishonoured, the operator can charge a late fee. Whether such a fee is charged is at the discretion of the operator. However, any late fee cannot be higher than would normally be charged if you were a direct customer of the relevant local utility service provider. Check the local supplier’s website to see what fees they charge for late payments.

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What else can the operator do if I don’t pay my utility bills? 

In addition to or instead of charging late fees, the operator may apply to the Tribunal for an order requiring you to pay the outstanding amounts. The Tribunal can make an order in these situations without a hearing, if you agree. This order can then be enforced as a debt in the local court. Extra fees and charges could be added if it gets to this stage.

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Can site fees be used to cover utility bills? 

No. An operator must not use money you have paid as site fees towards the payment of any other charges, including utilities.

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Can I be charged for the operator reading the meters? 

The operator has the right to come onto your site to inspect, read, service, repair or replace any meter. They cannot charge you a fee for doing this.

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What if I feel I have been overcharged? 

If you believe that the amounts you are being charged for utilities are incorrect, discuss this first with the operator. You have the right to ask the operator to provide you with reasonable access to bills and other documents relating to your utility charges.

If an agreement is reached, the operator may:

  • refund the overpayment directly 
  • allow you to deduct the amount from your site fees.

If you cannot agree, you can apply to the Tribunal for an order to resolve the dispute.

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