Jo Twible, KJB lawyer gives legal advice to seniors on retirement villages fees & contracts
Jo Twible, Principal, KJB Law made the case for increased scrutiny over contracts before entering a retirement village at an information seminar, Retirement Villages, Fees and Contracts, organised by Goodwin at the Premier Inn in Belconnen on Thursday 23 November, 2017. Twible also stated most retirement village operators in the ACT, including Goodwin, have contracts compliant or largely compliant with the Retirement Villages legislation but that it is important for a potential resident to be made aware of any non-compliance and, in those circumstances, the Resident’s true rights.
“It is crucial for seniors to undertake due diligence on a retirement village’s fees and contracts before signing up. Your lawyer’s role is to help with this, so that you go into the transaction with your eyes wide open” says Twible .
Also presenting on the day was Erik Boddeus, Goodwin’s Executive Manager Retirement Living, and Chair of the ACT Retirement Living Committee of the Property Council of Australia. Boddeus recommended people employ their financial planner to assist them prior to investing in a retirement village. Boddeus says, “it’s not just about the departure fee but also potential returns from the investment and the lifestyle benefits and services that come with village living”.
Boddeus also suggested prospective residents speak to the village’s residents and the ACT Retirement Villages Residents’ Association to get a feel for how people enjoy the village. “Look at the operator’s policy on refurbishing units when a resident departs as refurbished units find new residents more quickly. It’s also critical to consider the recurrent charges within the village, how well the operator runs the village, and how quickly you will get your monies back,” said Boddeus.
Boddeus is responsible for all activities within Goodwin’s Retirement Living division, and has more than 25 years’ experience in the sector. Goodwin is the largest and longest-standing Canberra-based, not -for-profit, aged-care and retirement living provider. It is owned by its 200+ members who are mainly residents. Goodwin has four villages across the capital, with The Central apartments recently completed and selling, and Farrer Village under redevelopment and due for first release in 2018.
Another area clarified by Twible was that there are presently three different types of “property ownership” models utilised by retirement villages in the ACT. Some of the villages operate under a Unit Title model, some a Sublease/Underlease model whilst others utilise a Loan/Licence agreement. These three models all have different contractual arrangements that potential residents should fully understand.
The seminar at Premier Inn, Belconnen attracted more than 150 people, demonstrating the need and interest in housing options for seniors; as well as the appetite for clear, in-depth information about this often-misunderstood sector.
“The presentation was clear and concise, the speakers were very knowledgeable and knew their subject matter. Every question asked was answered frankly, without waffle, and the audience were not left in any doubt about matters raised. It was a great initiative,” said Faye Powell.
Another guest, Carmel Lynch said, “The presentations were excellent, particularly the legal information. I am now filled in on the whole picture of what retirement living looks like and am grateful to be armed with essential knowledge about retirement villages fees and contracts”.
By 2050, 8.1 million Australians will be over 65 and looking for housing options that are age appropriate and in suitable locations. New retirement villages, among other options for seniors such as home care services, are popping up all over the country in a bid to offer more choice for new generations of seniors.
Quoting research by Grant Thornton, commissioned by the Property Council of Australia, Boddeus added, “the retirement village lifestyle enables people to live longer independently, delays the need to access residential care, and reduces the chance of hospitalisation and mental health issues as people become part of a community there is less social isolation.”