Many Village Residents Have Difficulty Achieving Justice

A system with no enforcement powers

Even when residents win their case, there is no higher authority to enforce decisions. In many instances, when residents approach their village operators with Tribunal approved changes, the village operator simply threatens to take them to court.

Residents cannot cope with the process

In many cases, residents are dissuaded from approaching the Tribunal with their problems as they are unable to deal with the emotional stress of the whole process, as well as legal and expert witness costs. Village operators often escalate disputes by taking residents to court. In these scenarios, residents cannot afford to compete financially/legally with the village operators. This makes it extremely difficult to win a case.

Below is a Tribunal case that illustrates some of the problems residents can face at budget time:

The village operator is in the third year of disputed budgets. In the 2015 financial year, the residents originally refused to approve the budget. NCAT heard and approved a late village operator application for a 30% increase in recurrent charges (RC) at $653 when compared with the 2014 approved budget of $500pm. Included was $66pm for the Capital Works Fund (CWF). The residents were forced to pay this large increase in RC.

In early 2016 (6 months after the budget should have been approved!), NCAT heard another late village operator application, this time for the 2016 budget seeking RC of $770pm, an 18% increase on 2015. Included this time was $27pm for CWF for new specified projects. The rejection by the residents was due to excessive expenses as well as village operator costs being passed on to residents.

This matter should be decided by NCAT before the end of February 2017.These charges were not approved by the residents or the Tribunal. The 2016 year end finished with deficits of $400000 and a doubled up collection by the village operator of $174000 which was emptied to reduce the deficit. The Act forbids using such resident’s money to reduce a deficit.

Meanwhile with 8 months into the 2017 financial year and another pending deficit, the village operator again is without any approval on RC. The $66pm for the 2015 CWF is still being invoiced although not paid for by all residents – many rightfully objected.. The village residents are very concerned and anxious as the 2018 budget process is about to start and two previous budgets have not been resolved.

When will they be able to move forward? Are these the conditions that senior residents in the last years of their life, should be worrying about?

The RVRA are proposing several changes to the Act, that should help to speed up the process and deliver more justice for the senior residents who should not be so concerned and anxious about their future.

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