26 September 2023

New laws to govern retirement villages

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The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has announced that reforms have been proposed for the legislation governing retirement villages in WA.

“Amendments to the Retirement Villages Act 1992 will address issues that have arisen between operators and future, current and past residents and their families,” the Department said.

It said that under the proposed amendments, operators would be required to clearly and accurately describe the product, including detailing the amenities, services and type of tenure, such as whether it was a lease, licence, strata, or purple title.

“Key details of village contracts will be provided earlier so prospective residents can make accurate comparisons and fully understand the commitments they are making,” the Department said.

“Supporting this will be the establishment of a publicly available database managed by Consumer Protection that will provide information about retirement villages in Western Australia, including the tenure being offered and types of residences in the village.”

It said major disputes that arose between residents, their families and the retirement village operator could occur when the resident wanted or needed to leave the village.

“A time limit of 12 months will be placed on the operator to pay exit entitlements to the resident after they leave.

“Currently, in some cases, former retirement village residents can wait several years before receiving exit entitlements, often causing distress and financial hardship,” the Department said.

“To assess the financial impact the exit entitlement reform will have on the industry, the Western Australian Treasury Corporation was commissioned to conduct unique and extensive industry consultation, analysis and modelling.”

Minister for Commerce, Roger Cook said that with an estimated 25,500 residents living in about 300 retirement villages in the State, it was essential that all issues were canvassed.

“The extensive review of retirement village laws put a microscope over all aspects of the process, from when seniors decide to enter into a retirement village contract; issues that arise while living in a village; and some of the difficulties experienced by residents when it’s time to leave, or by families when the resident passes away,” Mr Cook said.

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