By Karen Buck
A DETERMINED push by Peaceful Bay leaseholders to have their current fixed leases transferred to a rolling system has met with some success.
Denmark Shire CEO Bill Parker said that council had received numerous requests for the current leasing arrangements to be changed, and had begun informal discussions with leaseholders and that council may formally consider it in the near future as it may offer residents some security of tenure. Currently, the 21- year leases on the 207 leasehold properties fall due on the same date in 2031, according to Peaceful Bay Progress Association President Hayden Jones. “If there are only a few years left on a lease it becomes a much less desirable option for people to take on, and that drives down property values,” Mr Jones said. “The overwhelming majority of Bay residents want council to put in place a rolling or staggered leasing system, similar to that which the Manjimup shire applies at Windy Harbour. “It means that whenever a lease changes hands, either within a family or as a result of a sale, a new 21-year lease begins which provides some security of tenure for the new leaseholder. “If there are only a few years left on a lease it can make the future of the property seem uncertain, and no-one wants to buy.”
The more contentious issue of whether the leases should be offered to owners as freehold or strata titles has not appeared on any formal discussion agenda since the possibility was resoundingly voted down by Peaceful Bay residents in 2014, and Mr Parker did not believe the issue was likely to be raised in the near future and had not been raised during his time with council. The move to change to freehold was mooted by the council of the day as a way of ensuring tenure for residents and to raise the estimated $26-million to install reticulated water and sewerage at the settlement. Leaseholders were not sold on the idea, with 76 percent saying that they wanted to stay with the current arrangements. They felt that the proposed cost of $200,000 per title was prohibitive, that leases would retain the uniqueness and character of the settlement, and that the proposal favoured council at leaseholders’ expense. “The leases come up for renewal in 2031, so council probably needs to make some decisions before long about what the future beyond 2031 should look like,” said Mr Parker.