Contact Consumer Protection
Tel: 1300 30 40 54
See all Consumer Protection office locations
19 April 2023
In this bulletin:
Before the start of each financial year, the residents of a retirement village must have access to next year’s proposed budget documents. This is in preparation for the operator and residents budget consultation process.
Under the Fair Trading (Retirement Villages Code) Regulations 2022 (the Code), the operator of a retirement village must establish appropriate procedures for consulting with residents and the residents’ committee on future planning and budgeting for the retirement village. This includes any proposed change to the operating financial arrangements of the retirement village. Operators are expected to be transparent and accountable to residents about budget setting and village operating expenditure. Operators, therefore, must:
A well-developed consultation process with residents and the residents’ committee can save an operator time and minimise disputes. It is also a requirement of the Code.
The proposed budget determines the recurrent charges residents will pay in the coming financial year. Village budgets and recurrent charges are a common cause of complaints. Effective consultation provides residents with the opportunity to have a say in the proposed budget. It also allows them to understand the proposed recurrent charges, which will minimise the possibility of a dispute arising.
Providing information plays a part in the consultation process. However, effective consultation is much more than providing information – operators should fully engage residents and the residents’ committee in the decision-making process for the village’s budget.
Residents have the right to request and obtain further information to provide them with an understanding of the financial budgets presented. The operator is required to comply with reasonable requests by residents for such information within 10 working days.
The Code provides examples of effective consultation. This includes the operator giving the residents and residents’ committee the opportunity to express views on matters affecting the operation of, or experience of living in, the retirement village. The operator needs to listen and consider these views, comments and concerns before making a decision. The operator should respond to matters in writing in a timely manner. They should provide reasons why requests can or cannot be met, as well as taking steps to put in place requests where appropriate and reasonable.
The proposed budget must not be finalised or approved until each resident receives the required minimum of 10 working days to consider the budget documents. This period starts the day after they are served the written notice of the location of the proposed budget documents.
The proposed budget also cannot be finalised or approved until the operator holds an annual budget meeting of residents, which must be held before the end of each financial year. This meeting specifically deals with matters relating to the final budget proposals for the next financial year.
Operators should not use the annual budget meeting as the initial means to engage with residents about the proposed budget. Operators should consult with residents and the residents’ committee beforehand, for example via a pre-meeting conference. Residents should be encouraged to raise queries or concerns direct with the operator or through the residents’ committee.
If you have any queries about the obligations regarding proposed operating or reserve fund budgets, please call Consumer Protection’s Contact Centre on 1300 30 40 54 or email email@example.com.