Caravan park residents in dispute over power costs

RESIDENTS of a Bundaberg caravan park have found themselves embroiled in a dispute with the owner over a monthly service charge on their electricity bills that has been deemed illegal by the Tenants' Union of Queensland.

Since June, the residents of the 131 sites at the Bundaberg Park Lodge noticed an extra charge of $12.90, a "service fee per metering point", on their monthly electricity bills issued by park owner, Lorraine Palmer.

But when the park tenants received their July bills, that charge - which they have been told is the cost to read the park meter - jumped to $16.79.

"She's charging every metering site that fee," the group's spokesman, who did not wish to be named out of fear of retribution, said.

The spokesman said Ms Palmer would be charged one flat fee from the supplier to read the main meter that powers the whole site.

"She can't make money from on supply of electricity," he said.

He said residents were given no explanation from Ms Palmer about the sudden fee, including who the electricity distributor was and what fee she was being charged for them to read the main meter.

"All the response we get is that the law has changed and she can now charge the fee," he said.

More than 20 concerned residents met with the Tenants' Union of Queensland Bundaberg representative Ros Connor yesterday - a meeting that Ms Palmer did not attend.

Most residents said they had continued to pay their electricity bills but not the service fee, prompting a number of breaches being issued by Ms Palmer.

"She shouldn't be charging the fee," Ms Connor said.

Ms Connor said both the Residential Tenancy Act for moveable dwelling premises and the Manufactured Homes Act protected tenants from what was being charged by Ms Palmer.

"That is not lawful - she can't charge an additional fee," she said.

She said the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) had advised residents not to pay the service fee, and mediation would happen to resolve the issue on Monday.

The NewsMail contacted Ms Palmer yesterday but she refused to answer questions.

"I've got nothing to say until (Monday)," she said.

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