Retirement village owners and operators agreed upon the action plan which aims to deliver higher standards, clearer and simpler information about costs and contracts, and an independent umpire to resolve disputes – leading to greater transparency and higher standards across the industry and to the more than 180,000 older Australians who live in retirement villages.
Executive Director Retirement Living at the Property Council of Australia, Ben Myers, says the action plan will form the basis of future discussions with politicians and regulators about enhancing the industry.
“We know from independent surveys and resident feedback that the clear majority of village residents are enjoying the retirement village lifestyle and the advantages it provides,” Mr Myers says.
“But there are improvements that operators in the industry need to make, to ensure residents have complete certainty about their contract, including what they’re paying for and when they’re paying it.
“Together with resident representatives, we have identified some key issues for action, and we are commencing the work on these straight away.”
The 8-point retirement village industry action plan includes:
- Support nationally consistent retirement village legislation and contracts
- Ensure there are transparent and easy-to-understand descriptions in contracts of entry pricing, ongoing service fees, reinstatement costs and fees and payments relating to departure, so residents have certainty about the costs associated with living in a retirement village
- Encourage all potential residents to seek independent legal advice before signing a contract, and work together with the government and the legal profession to make this happen. We will also encourage potential residents to share this information with family members and trusted advisers
- Improve training and professional support for village managers, sales people and other staff who engage directly with current and potential residents
- Commit to improve industry village accreditation standards and coverage, and support government initiatives to make accreditations a mandatory requirement for operating a village
- Commit to working with the Australian Retirement Village Residents Association to implement an industry Code of Conduct to set and maintain high standards about the marketing and operation of villages, as well as dispute management procedures for all operators and residents
- Commit to the establishment of an efficient and cost-effective Ombudsman or Advocate, for disputes that are unable to be solved at a village level
- Maintain and strengthen the relationship between the industry and the Australian Retirement Village Residents Association to make sure resident issues are clearly identified and addressed
Mr Myers says that the action plan will better equip operators to continue to improve, and help correct misconceptions that have occurred recently.
“We look forward to working constructively with state and federal governments so that residents are reassured that their interests remain paramount to retirement village operators across Australia.
“We invite any operator, resident or member of the public to contact us via our website with any feedback they may have.”