Police powers – a practical guide for park managers and park residents

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Caravan with camping chairs setup

Did you know that anybody in a caravan park – not just the owner/manager – can call the police if somebody is causing a serious nuisance?

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act) applies to tenancy agreements for caravans, caravan sites and rented manufactured homes. Chapter 8 of the Act and Chapter 19 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 outline some examples of behaviour within a park that may be considered a serious nuisance. This includes:

  • assault or threating to assault a resident or anyone else 
  • use of threatening or abusive language towards a resident or someone else 
  • behaviour that is riotous, violent, disorderly, indecent, offensive or threatening 
  • behaviour that causes a substantial, unreasonable annoyance to a resident or someone else 
  • behaviour that causes a substantial, unreasonable disruption to the privacy of a resident or someone else, or
  • wilful damage to the property of a resident or someone else.

The attending police officer will decide if the behaviour reported is a serious nuisance. They may consider reports about the disturbance, look for evidence of damage to property or park facilities, evidence of assault of an owner/manager, resident or someone else, or they may hear or see the disturbance themselves.

If the attending police officer believes there has been, or there is about to be, a serious offence (or crime) committed, they are required by law to take action according to the seriousness of the offence. They have the power to:  

  • give a warning – give an Initial or Final nuisance direction in writing or verbally to anyone found causing or reasonably suspected to have caused a serious nuisance
  • conduct a search – enter a caravan without a warrant if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting there is a person in the dwelling who has just caused, or is causing, a serious nuisance
  • make an arrest – arrest a person who breaches a Final nuisance direction or an exclusion order from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) without a warrant, if they believe the person is unlikely to appear in court because of their breaches.

When the police officer gives an Initial nuisance direction warning about a serious nuisance, the person is directed to stop causing the nuisance, not to do it again, and they are advised on the penalty applicable if the behaviour continues.

If the person continues to cause a serious nuisance within 24 hours of receiving an Initial nuisance direction, the police officer can give a Final nuisance direction which orders the person to leave the park for up to 24 hours and states the penalty applicable if this order is breached.

For residents on a tenancy agreement who are causing a serious nuisance, in addition to calling the police, the owner/manager can make an urgent application to the QCAT for an order to end the tenancy based on the tenant’s objectionable behaviour. The owner/manager also has the option to apply to QCAT for an order to exclude a person from a park - even if they are not a resident - for up to one year because of their behaviour. 

The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) encourages park managers and residents to meet their tenancy responsibilities and be conscious of how their behaviour may impact on residents or other people in the park. 

The RTA is here to make renting work for everyone. A park-specific webinar from February 2020 can be found at rta.qld.gov.au/webinars. See all caravan parks (moveable dwellings) fact sheets for more related tenancy information.

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