Evicting an unwanted tenant is never easy, and for caravan park owners Graeme and Jan Bolton the battle has lasted for almost a year.
William Pine arrived in November 2018 and agreed to pay $160 a week in rent, but within months he stopped paying and refused to leave, and the owners have had enough.
“He’s using our water, our power, destructive in the park, tampering with our services and that and gets away with it,” Jan told A Current Affair.
To make matters worse, every time Graeme and Jan complain to Bill, he retaliates.
“He rings up all these authorities telling them I’m not doing things right in the park to get them out here to go over everything, he’s just a trouble maker, he can’t help himself,” Graeme said.
While he likes to play the innocent victim, it turns out this squatter is a convicted criminal.
Court documents reveal William Pine was convicted of three counts of indecent assault of a person under the age of 16 in June last year and then in February this year of failing to comply with reporting under the Child Protection Offenders Registration.
But the owners were only made aware of his dark past a few months ago.
“The parole officer came out here two weeks ago. So, it’s quite official he’s a known paedophile,” said Jan.
Even before they knew about his history, Graeme issued Bill a notice to terminate tenancy over the unpaid rent back in May.
But when Bill refused to leave, the owners went to the New South Wales Civil Administrative Tribunal.
“When we finally got him into NCAT court, the member told him that he couldn’t adjudicate on the case because we didn’t have him under a contract, and he could basically live here free forever,” Graeme said.
We approached Bill ourselves to have a chat about the ongoing dispute he’s having with the caravan park owners.
The only response we got from Bill was “Nothing to say, I’m not answering any of your questions, so please leave.”
The reception he gave us is one Graeme and Jan say they’re given time and time again.
“It’s just an ongoing thing, he ignores you, swears at you. Where do you go? The police say you can’t tow him out. Can’t turn his bloody power off. What do you do?” Jan said.
Lawyer Christine Smyth said the difficulty was that Bill did not have a written lease.
“So he’s what they call a tenant at will and unfortunately the landowners are subject to the laws in that respect,” she said.
She feels for the couple but says the only solution is by entering a lengthy, complex and possibly costly legal battle.
“They can spend the money getting the proper legal advice but they won’t be able to recover it. So they may recover the $5400-odd but they may spend just as much to recover it,” she said.
While we were at the caravan park, Bill did exactly as Graeme and Jan predicted, and called the police on us, but he wasn’t too keen to chat with them while our cameras were rolling.
The police left without resolving the situation but then days later came a breakthrough. The park security cameras capture Bill leaving with his caravan in tow.
A day Graeme and Jan thought they would never see.
“It was just such a relief to see him go … I’ve got to thank you guys for that,” Graeme said.
“All I’ve got to say is I pity the next park that this despicable person ends up at,” Jan said.
Now the couples’ next challenge is to find out where Bill has gone, because he still owes them $5400.