Les Armstrong discusses the role of the QLD residents association
Retirement village lifestyle offers a great opportunity for aged people to commence the final stage in their life in a friendly, happy and maybe harmonious environment where everything is provided for them.
Almost all retirement villages provide excellent services and facilities which saves you having to do all the tedious maintaining of the yard, and all those other onerous tasks. You’ll also get a new circle of friends, and generally your lifestyle is better because you’re able to relax and enjoy that last stage of your life.
If you leave the village for a holiday, you can come back content knowing that your village manager will have looked after the unit.
The criticisms we have about the retirement village industry are that the residents contract, the primary document which governs your lifestyle and the conditions of your entrance and exit, is a very complex and complicated document which in many cases is 100 plus pages thick. It includes the public documentation which is the disclosure requirement and it will tell you everything you need to know about that lifestyle.
The ARQRV represents approximately eight and a half thousand member residents in Queensland of which there are 28,000 ILU’s . Our primary role is consumer protection issues related to residents living in retirement villages. At the same time we’re very aware of the need to work towards maintaining the viability of the industry. Our daily workload consists of response to enquiry from residents from telephone, email. And the vast majority of those are relatively simple, such as maintenance not being performed on time, tardy responses to correspondence and requests, the ‘noisy-bird’ cases where it’s neighbour vs neighbour and all of those other things that you experience in close communal living.
The most significant task that we do is represent residents in cases, about five percent of cases, where there is a financial implication – the budget hasn’t been correctly prepared, or there’s an over charge, or failure to provide a general service. If that goes to the dispute stage, which is about five percent of all the cases we handle, it’s a three stage process. It always has a preliminary negotiation stage where we try to talk that with the operator and the aggrieved resident, we monitor that. The second stage is the formal start where you have a mediator appointed by the tribunal and if that’s unsuccessful, as is the case about nine times out of ten, you go to the full tribunal and we average about eight to ten of those per year.
All of the states and the ACT have a consumer protection organisation for residents in retirement villages and they have exactly the same ethos as the ARQRV which is to look after the interests of residents. The importance of residents being involved in the state association is that a favourable result from any resolution we achieve flows on to every resident even if it’s only an individual case. Because most of these things affect the lifestyle whether it’s the individual or a group of individuals in the village, or an entire village, or indeed any of the 330 odd villages in Queensland.
It’s absolutely essential before you consider entering a retirement village that you do your due diligence specifically on the resident’s contract and the public information document. They are complicated documents and they require a great deal of analysis and you need to understand that the important parts of your lifestyle are going to be controlled by the content of that documentation. If you don’t get professional advice on that, you may be unhappy and you may find that elements of living in the retirement village which are not to your liking. Typical due diligence of this documentation by a qualified expert might take one week and cost in the order of one thousand dollars. Money well spent, and time well expended.