1 July 2019 saw the commencement of the next wave of reforms in the retirement village sector following the Greiner Review, with further parts of the Retirement Villages Amendment Act 2018 No 77 coming into effect following proclamation on 13 February 2019.
These reforms include:
1. Annual contract ‘check-up’ meetings with residents;
2. New requirements for emergency plans;
3. Annual evacuation exercises;
4. Display of key safety information;
5. New auditor appointment process; and
6. Guidelines may be issued by the Commissioner for Fair Trading to assist operators of retirement villages.
Below is a brief recap of the amendments:
Meetings to explain village contract information to residents
Residents will be able to request a village contract information meeting with the operator at least once each calendar year to explain the resident’s village contract, and be provided with a written summary of that explanation.
Village emergency plans
Village operators will need to prepare and maintain an emergency plan for the village and ensure all residents and staff are familiar with the plan.
Annual emergency evacuation exercises
Village operators will need to undertake an evacuation exercise at least once each calendar year, display key safety information in the village and provide each resident with key safety information in relation to their premises.
Display of Key Safety Information
Village operators will have to provide residents with key safety information and also display this in communal areas within the village, including:
• a map showing the location of assembly areas, exits, fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment;
• instruction on how to evacuate in case of emergency.
Consent for appointment of auditors
Only a qualified auditor whose appointment as the auditor has received the residents’ consent may audit the village’s accounts.
Fair Trading guidelines
Fair Trading may issue guidelines to assist operators of retirement villages in complying with their obligations and the Tribunal may take these guidelines into account when making orders.
The remaining reforms within the Amendment Act require regulations to be developed before they can commence. This will include the mandatory Rules of Conduct which will be enforceable and subject to penalties. The Government has also indicated it intends introducing a 42-day limit on the length of time villages can charge for general services after a resident leaves a village, and a requirement for operators to pay departing residents the value of their home within 6 months in metropolitan areas and 12 months within regional areas.