Commissioner's Blog: Phase two of retirement village law review
With Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
Imagine waiting four years for money owed to you after leaving a retirement village. In extreme cases it’s the shocking reality for former retirement village residents who are left in serious financial hardship and distress and unable to pay for alternative accommodation. We know seniors in this position may have urgent needs to move into aged care.
A public consultation on proposed changes to WA’s retirement village laws is entering phase two and will look at how long it takes for former residents to receive their exit entitlements and whether there needs to be a time limit placed on the payment. Consumer Protection is seeking the views of industry, residents and the community.
Clarification of refurbishment costs when residents move out is another issue being canvassed. It’s contentious because differing contracts means some residents are made to pay for works to upgrade the residence, while other contracts require the unit simply to be made marketable. We’re asking: what should departing residents reasonably be expected to do – reinstate a unit to its original condition or an improved product to market?
Proposed reforms to the Retirement Villages Act also deal with problems experienced with management of the money needed for works to maintain a village. Should residents have the power to approve operating budgets, giving them more power over the village costs that they pay? Is there a need to establish additional conduct obligations on village operators and managers under WA’s retirement village legislation?
At the heart of it we’re looking at whether residents should have more control, or at least more say, in the running of their retirement village and if the responsibilities of operators need to be clearer.
The closing date for submissions, via email or post, is 13 March 2020. Head to www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consultations to read the consultation paper and how to have a say. Alternatively, call 1300 30 40 54 during business hours.
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