The New South Wales Government recently adopted a four-point plan to improve retirement village living. This plan included an undertaking to launch an inquiry into the sector, which has since been officially announced.
Key matters to be investigated
The purpose and scope of the inquiry can be generally described as follows:
Are operators acting honestly and fairly towards residents?
Are operators diligently and competently managing retirement villages (eg by ensuring the units as common areas are safe for residents, and that retirement village finances are properly managed)?
Are operators doing all that they should do to make sure that prospective residents understand the likely cost of living in a retirement village, before entering into a village contract?
Are operators complying with their regulatory obligations (eg under the Retirement Villages Act 1999 (NSW), Retirement Villages Regulation 2017 (NSW) and Australian Consumer Law).
Are unfair outcomes arising despite full compliance with the regulatory framework? If so, what laws need to change to address this unfairness?
The full scope of matters to be investigated are set out in these Terms of Reference, released by Matthew Kean, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation.
Public consultation required
It is a requirement that interested parties be given the opportunity to make submissions and otherwise be involved in a public consultation process. NSW Fair Trading will release email updates about scheduled opportunities as they become available. Interested parties can use the links and contact information on this page:
to make general written submissions about the inquiry; and/or
opt in to receive email updates from NSW Fair Trading.
Implications for operators
The final report and recommendations from the inquiry are due to be completed by 15 December 2017. These documents will likely identify any potential changes to legislative obligations and accepted industry best practice. We recommend that operators consider these documents carefully, when they are made available.
The inquiry is not intended to be a quasi-judicial investigation into complaints against operators. However, it does appear that the actual practices of individual operators will be examined in the course of conducting this inquiry.
How we can help
Jessica Kinny, Principal of Kinny Legal, is a retirement law specialist. We help operators comply with their regulatory obligations and thrive in an environment of constant regulatory change. If you need help navigating this public consultation process, or want to discuss this inquiry in more detail, click here to contact us.
This blog post does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is a general commentary on matters that may be of interest to you. Formal legal or other professional advice should be sought before acting or relying on any matter arising from this communication.