Resort residents to face eviction

Noel Gaston and other unit owners at Delfinos resort in Hervey Bay have been told by council their apartments are for holidaymakers, not permanent residents.
Noel Gaston and other unit owners at Delfinos resort in Hervey Bay have been told by council their apartments are for holidaymakers, not permanent residents. Alistair Brightman

RESIDENTS at Delfinos Bay Resort in Hervey Bay face eviction after a council investigation revealed the building was approved for short-term accommodation only.

Some unit owners at the Torquay resort received letters from Fraser Coast Regional Council stating that by living there they are in breach of the building's development approval, which allows only holidaymakers and tourists.

Of the 22 units at Delfinos, five house permanent tenants, two of which are owner-occupiers.

Three of the unit owners recently received letters from council stating that "no record of planning approval for permanent accommodation has ever been granted over the site".

Noel Gaston bought his unit 18 months ago looking to go into "semi-retirement", but it was only recently brought to his attention that he would not be allowed to live there.

Mr Gaston said the real estate agent selling the unit had advertised it as "low maintenance living".

"They are 25-year-old all strata-titled units so they are suitable for permanent accommodation," Mr Gaston said.

"They are really nice apartments, particularly for elderly people.

"They have secure parking and they have lifts up to all the units."

Mr Gaston has not received a letter from council, but others in the resort have.

He believes it was Delfinos' resident manager Andrew Crewe who contacted council asking for the matter to be investigated.

Mr Crewe declined to comment when he was contacted by the Chronicle.

A representative of the Body Corporate also did not wish to make a comment.

Delfinos resident Colin Montgomery said when he bought his unit in December 2010 all parties involved knew he intended to live there.

He says the issue has far-reaching consequences for people in resort-style accommodation across Hervey Bay.

"Many current owners of units in Delfinos Bay Resort and other similar complexes in Hervey Bay bought their units with the intention of retiring and living in them once circumstances permit," Mr Montgomery said.

"In the interim, some have chosen to use the services of an onsite or offsite manager or real estate agents to handle their investment."

Mr Montgomery said in some cases it was more viable for unit owners to forego the various costs involved with holiday letting through onsite management and instead opt for long-term tenants.

Either way, he said, it should be the unit owners' decision to make.

Council chief executive Lisa Desmond said in a prepared statement that the unit owners at Delfinos wanting to take up permanent residence could make an application to council.

"The Body Corporate or individual unit owners could apply to have the building or individual unit approved for permanent occupancy," Ms Desmond said.

"Unit owners would need to obtain approval from the building's Body Corporate and lodge an application with council.

"Council has asked the property owner to stop the unapproved use and obtain the relevant approvals.

"Eviction of tenants or leaving the property to comply with a council direction would be determined by the property owner."

Ms Desmond said the original approval for the resort was for a motel in 1981 and then holiday units in 1983.

"Holiday unit conforms to the motel definition: provide temporary accommodation for the touring or holidaying public so council does not see any issues with Delfinos continuing to operate as a resort catering to the many tourists who visit our region."

Topics:  eviction fraser coast regional council hervey bay torquay

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