July 1 - 7, 2018: Issue 366

Fair Go For Retirees Under Sweeping Retirement Village Reforms

James Griffin MP, Member for Manly at recent Scam Awareness Seminar conducted by NSW Fair Trading at the Manly Senior Citizens Centre, who also discussed the Greiner Inquiry. Photo supplied.

Fair Go for Retirees Under Sweeping Retirement Village Reforms

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Retirement village residents on the Northern Beaches will benefit directly under a series of proposed NSW Government reforms to the sector, Member for Manly James Griffin said today. 

The reforms are based on the outcomes of the recent state-wide Inquiry into the sector led by Kathryn Greiner AO. 

“During a forum I hosted at the Manly Senior Citizens Centre, I received a number a questions regarding retirement village reforms and this important inquiry,” Mr Griffin said.

“Residents on the Northern Beaches heading into retirement will benefit significantly from these reforms, which will put the power back into their hands. 

“This is about ensuring more transparency and holding retirement villages to account so that if seniors choose to move into a retirement village it can be done with ease.” 

Mr Griffin said the Government welcomed the “Greiner Report”, and will take action to implement the recommendations. 

“As an advocate for our seniors, I am happy that these reforms will put consumers first, and see greater protections for residents through increased transparency, improved dispute resolution and more certainty around costs.” 

The package of reforms includes:

  • implementing a mandatory Code of Conduct to set the standard for retirement village operators and to stamp out unscrupulous behaviour;
  • introducing strong transparency measures to improve disclosure of key contract terms, exit fees, and to drive competition in the sector;
  • improved dispute resolution services for residents; and,
  • measures to help clarify responsibilities with respect to ongoing maintenance costs. 

The NSW Government will also appoint a dedicated Retirement Village Ambassador to act as a voice on behalf of residents, and report back on key issues. 

Mr Griffin said there are already more than 55,000 residents living in NSW retirement villages; however, this number will continue to grow significantly due to the ageing population. 

“Residents on the Northern Beaches deserve to be able to live independent and fulfilling lives in their chosen retirement village, which is why it’s so important we improve our laws to increase confidence in the sector now.” 

The Inquiry was ordered by the NSW Government after a series of concerning reports about alleged misconduct in the sector, and ran from August to December 2017. 

It included extensive consultation with the public, key stakeholders, and industry experts, received about 500 written and online submissions, and more than 500 people attended state-wide community forums. 

For more information on the NSW Government response, or to read the “Greiner Report”, visit fairtrading.nsw.gov.au - Inquiry into NSW retirement villages webapge

Inquiry into NSW retirement villages 

As part of its four-point plan to improve retirement village living, the NSW Government commissioned Kathryn Greiner AO to lead an inquiry into the NSW retirement village sector. The inquiry was conducted between August and December 2017.

The Inquiry into the NSW Retirement Village Sector Report (the Greiner Review Report) (PDF: 2.87mb) outlines the Inquiry’s findings and recommendations to improve the legislative framework for retirement villages in NSW.  The Inquiry found that the operation of the retirement village sector could be improved in three key areas:

  • increasing transparency of exit fees and contracts
  • clarifying the funding arrangements for ongoing maintenance costs which are shared between residents and operators
  • providing more support when disputes arise (and reducing the potential for disputes arise).

The Greiner Review Report further recommends improving Fair Trading’s administrative and operational practices in the retirement village sector.

The NSW Government supports the findings and recommendations in the Greiner Review Report. To implement the Greiner Review Report, it will make reforms to afford greater protections to consumers. These reforms will aim to:

  • increase transparency
  • improve certainty around costs
  • enhance operator accountability
  • improve dispute resolution, and
  • strengthen Fair Trading’s role as the regulator of retirement villages in NSW.  

The Government is progressing the proposed reforms outlined in its response, and will consult on any significant proposals as they are developed.

Read the Government response to the Greiner Review Report (PDF: 314kb).

Background to the Inquiry 

The Inquiry reviewed the protections offered to residents and whether Fair Trading has the necessary powers to make sure retirement village operators are complying with the law. The Inquiry looked at concerns raised about the fairness and transparency of business practices of retirement villages in NSW, including:

  • transparency and honesty of marketing activities
  • clarity of fees and contractual rights and obligations for prospective residents and their families
  • suitability and fairness of village maintenance and operational practices to maintain resident safety
  • availability and cost-effectiveness of dispute resolution mechanisms
  • fairness of arrangements to levy maintenance fees to maintain the village and address building defects.

The Inquiry also looked at opportunities to improve Fair Trading’s administrative and operational practices that could help address unfair practices in the sector.

James Griffin MP, Member for Manly at recent Scam Awareness Seminar conducted by NSW Fair Trading at the Manly Senior Citizens Centre, who also discussed the Greiner Inquiry. Photo supplied.