Port pensioners' rents up 40 per cent

PENSIONERS in a Fern Bay retirement village say they will be devastated by a planned near-40 per cent rent rise.

More than 800 Bayway Village residents received notice this month of what the Affiliated Residential Park Residents Association has called the state's biggest rent increase this year.

Hampshire Property Group, which bought the village last November, informed some residents their rent would increase by $37.50 a week.

Pensioners Doug and Judith Peterson's weekly rent is set to rise from $97.50 to $135.

"It'll have a big impact," Mr Peterson said.

"Our lifestyle now is that we go out once a fortnight to get our groceries and that's it."

Mr Peterson, 75, said he and Mrs Peterson, 68, owned their house and were paying rent for a site with service lines.

Hampshire chief financial controller Richard Black said he could not comment on individual cases, but residents had been consulted about possible park upgrades along with the increases.

Upgrades could include a new indoor pool, a bigger building for the village Men's Shed or improved gates and roads.

Mr Black said rent at the village had not kept pace with what new residents were willing to pay.

Residents Association delegates sought a meeting with Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts yesterday "to seek full disclosure laws for prospective residents".

Hampshire also faced rent-gouging claims in 2009 from residents of its Crystal Waters retirement village in Tuncurry.

Demographers using census data for Port Stephens found Fern Bay to be one of the Hunter's most disadvantaged areas, largely because many residents were elderly with low incomes.

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