A resort built on a beach at Hervey Bay on Queensland's Fraser Coast could fall apart in the next big cyclone or significant storm a recent engineers' report obtained by ABC News warns, finding the main seawall at the resort is "not compliant".
The report said the seawall had the "potential for sections of the structure to fail" in extreme weather conditions.
Retiree Ray Maxwell lives in one of 183 units at the Great Sandy Straits Marina Resort and said the safety issues were alarming.
"Basically we sit here year by year, hoping that we don't get a cyclone event come through Hervey Bay or touch near Hervey Bay — I've always called the situation we face a miniature New Orleans," he said.
Locals have joined together to ask the Queensland Government to help prevent a disaster.
The resort sits on a parcel of crown land but is leased by a subsidiary of Mantra Group, Agreedto Pty Ltd on a perpetual arrangement.
A public access boardwalk between the apartments and the adjoining marina had also degraded to the point where it had been condemned and closed.
It has been cordoned off for more than three years as it awaits reconstruction.
Engineers' report commissioned into seawall
Property owners last year commissioned engineers to investigate the seawall and have raised all their concerns with Mantra Group and the State Government.
Mr Maxwell said despite paying annual service and maintenance fees, their complaints were not being heeded.
"It's a complete waste of human energy," he said.
"We could be doing lots of other things around this community — instead of that we're trying to sort out something that the Government created and the Mantra Group won't deal with as far as we're concerned."
Max Dederer also owns a unit in the complex and said buying into the leasehold arrangement was a mistake.
"If I'd known this 23 years ago when I bought into it — I wouldn't," Mr Dederer said.
"We're concerned that eventually, life will be intolerable from a financial perspective — people won't be able to live in units of this type.
"There are many people who have retired here after their many years of hard work and they've put all their dollars into the units."
Government checking lease conditions
A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy said it was "well aware of the issues" but maintenance lied solely with the lessee.
"The department is keen to see a resolution and has raised these issues directly with the lessee," the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the department was checking to see if the lease conditions were "being complied with".
"The department will readily accept relevant evidence from sub-lessees including photographic images.
"The tenants already have legal avenues through which they can seek formal mediation if they wish."
Company considering engineers' report
Mantra Group issued a statement on behalf of its subsidiary Agreedto and said it was trying to come up with a solution.
"Agreedto has been working with the subtenants and the Queensland State Government for some time [at the request of a number of subtenants], to convert the GSSMR leasehold land to freehold land," a spokeswoman said.
"The various matters pertaining to the boardwalk and seawall have formed a part of the freeholding discussions.
"Given the cost implications of freeholding and/or works to the boardwalk and seawall [if any are found to be required] on the subtenants, Agreedto has been working with relevant parties to find the most cost-effective and equitable solution."
Agreedto said it was considering the engineers' report commissioned by the tenant's association and would be seeking advice from other qualified consultants.
Land tenure changed to perpetual lease
Expressions of interest for development of the site were first sought in 1987 under the then-Bjelke-Petersen government as a 40-year lease.
However, this changed to 75 years, at request of the developer just prior to a commitment to construction in 1991.
About halfway through the project, the land tenure was changed to a perpetual lease before the complex was completed in 2003.