There is a wide range of issues to consider when entering a Retirement Village, many of which this article will discuss in more detail. Firstly, a Retirement Village is a managed community for seniors (over 55s).  Each Australian State and Territory has enacted specific legislation that defines what a retirement village (Village) is and regulates the relationship between retirement village operators (Operator) and their residents and prospective residents (Residents).

Generally, places such as nursing homes, caravan parks or manufactured home estates are excluded from the various State and Territory Acts. It should be noted that just because a complex advertises as an “over 55’s village”, this does not necessarily mean that it is a “Retirement Village”.

The Village Contract

For a Village to be covered by the various State and Territory Acts, Residents must enter into a contract with the Operator – either in respect of living in the Village and/or receiving certain services offered by the Operator.

There are many different types of contracts that a resident may be asked to sign before moving in to a Village.  The most common are: 

  • Retirement Village Contract;
  • Loan and License Agreements;
  • Long term leases; and
  • Services and Facilities agreements.

Retirement village contracts can differ from Village to Village and it is important for residents to obtain legal advice about all of the contracts before they sign anything or pay any money to an Operator of a Village.

Disclosure to Prospective Residents of a Retirement Village

The Operator of a Retirement Village is obliged under the various State and Territory Retirement Village Acts to provide a prospective Resident (or a person acting on the resident’s behalf), with a ‘Disclosure Statement’ before signing a Retirement Village Contract. The Disclosure Statement must contain prescribed information about the Village.

The purpose of a Disclosure Statement is to give prospective residents a general understanding of the features and financial arrangements of the Retirement Village with the overall purpose being that it will assist the prospective resident to compare that Village with other Villages.

The Disclosure Statement must contain details of the fees and charges that will be payable by the Resident upon entry to the Village and during the time the Resident lives in the Village. Residents cannot enter into a Contract with the Operator until at least 14 days after receiving the Disclosure Statement.

Operators are also required to make available for inspection, or provide free of charge, other information about the Village such as a site plan, statements of proposed expenditure and audit accounts.

Conclusion

Entering into a Retirement Village Contract should only be done once legal advice has been obtained and the terms of the contract have been reviewed. Without professional legal assistance, you could risk paying fees you didn’t expect and being locked into a long-term contract, the majority of which you didn’t fully understand when you agreed to its terms.

If you need a contract lawyer to review the terms of your Retirement Village Contract, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755. 

Emma Heuston

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