RV regulations

Increased retirement village regulations spreading across Australia – now Victoria

It’s a fight between QLD and NSW on which Government is going to introduce a new round of village regulations first, with other states copying and catching up.

This week has been Victoria’s turn and the Government is looking to embrace buybacks, following QLD which first introduced them, but also NSW in having different buyback periods depending on whether it’s a metro or regional village.

Village operators now have just a month to respond to the latest options paper from the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation on the proposed reforms to the Victorian Retirement Villages Act 1986 (Act).

You can read the paper here.

The 88-page paper lists 19 potential reforms for consideration, including:

  • Mandated buybacks for retirement village units not re-sold within a specified timeframe.
  • Amending the RV Act to clarify the definition of a retirement village.
  • Improving disclosure obligations, including requiring all fees to be disclosed in advertising materials.
  • Improving understanding of retirement village payment models by defining ‘deferred management fee’ and introducing yearly contract check-ups on request
  • Reforming the contract process by requiring contracts to be in plain English and introducing a requirement that residents must get legal advice before signing contracts.
  • Amending the Act to clarify all maintenance and repair requirements.
  • Extend the cooling-off period for retirement villages and/or introduce a settling-in period.
  • Amending the timeframe for charging fees to departing village residents for personal services and maintenance charges.
  • Clarifying reinstatement and renovation requirements for RV residents and operators.
  • Regulating the share of capital losses and gains.
  • Enhancing internal dispute resolution procedures, including removing the role of residents’ committees in resident disputes and/or mandating a Code of Conduct.
  • A new mandatory Code of Conduct to spell out the rights and responsibilities of RV operators and residents.
  • Clarifying the arrangements for residents’ committees.
  • Improving staff qualifications with mandatory qualifications for retirement village managers and staff.
  • Developing a compulsory village accreditation scheme.
  • Reforming the external dispute resolution process with mandatory conciliation and the establishment of an Industry Ombudsman.

The Government acknowledges concern from operators that mandated buybacks “would present significant financial challenges for operators, particularly for those operating in regional areas.”

Unsurprisingly, residents and advocacy organisations supported their introduction, but the report states there were “mixed views” about the length of time that should pass before a residence is bought back.

“Timeframes of six, 12 or 18 months would provide a starting point to further develop this option,” the paper says.

Operators have two options to respond – by responding to the paper or completing a survey.

Find out more here.

If you want to participate you will need to be quick though – submissions close 11.59pm Friday 14 May 2021.

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