- Operators lied to consumers about the development status of waterfront villas
- Supreme Court said operators had been deceptive and misleading
- Ordered to pay $2,353,926 in compensation
Back in 2019, New South Wales’ Fair Trading took three caravan park operators to the Supreme Court over falsely marketing waterfront villas to consumers as “permanent residences” despite not having the appropriate development consent.
A series of complaints were received by NSW Fair Trading by consumers who claimed they were misled, as they believed they could live at the Tweed River villas permanently
Consumers had been told that contractual terms and planning requirements that would limit occupation to 180 days a year wouldn’t be enforced, meaning they could live at the villas permanently.
The villas had been purchased around 2009 and 2012.
The Supreme Court ruled that the three defendants – Jonval Builders Pty Ltd, Hacienda Caravan Park Pty Ltd and John Allan Willmott – had engaged in deceptive and misleading conduct.
Along with this, the Court said all three defendants had engaged in unconscionable conduct.
The decision was upheld by the NSW Court of Appeal in 2020, which ordered the three parties to pay $2,353,926 in compensation plus interest.
Kevin Anderson, the Minister for Better Regulation, said the case reinforces NSW Fair Trading’s commitment to protecting the interest of misled consumers, which in this case included retired buyers.
“This is consumer regulation working exactly as it’s meant to – government going into bat for consumers that were victims of unscrupulous players in the market,” Mr Anderson said.
“These operators acted unconscionably, leading to consumers, including retirees, paying a premium for what they believed were permanent waterfront residences.
“I’m glad that the consumers will be properly compensated.
“If you’re looking at buying a dwelling located inside a caravan park, make sure you check with council to confirm what you’re being offered is above board and seek independent legal advice on the sale.”