Residents Forced To Pay $70 Million After Last Minute Changes To Legislation

In the Retirement Villages Regulation 2009, under the Retirement Villages Act 1999 Public consultation draft, it is outlined that the maintenance of buildings, including the painting of external surfaces, is to be paid by the retirement village operators.

Residents (except Strata village residents), were not deemed responsible for any part of the painting cost.

However, when the draft was submitted to the Upper House for review and approval, the section specifying that painting was the responsibility of the village operator was removed. This transferred the enormous financial burden to village residents. It was a last minute decision that has significantly affected residents in a negative manner. These changes were never agreed to by the RVRA, and were vigorously opposed by our past officers Jan Pritchett and Malcolm McKenzie, but to no avail.

In many cases, residents now pay in excess of $50,000 per village each year. The most alarming part of this issue is that residents were not suitably forewarned of large programs implemented by the village operators. They have simply been burdened with these fees with no say in the matter.

This decision is so important that it should be revisited.

In 2009, The village operators released a statement that “the amendments are estimated to provide savings to the industry in NSW of approximately $70 million.” However, this is not a saving due to improved efficiency; it is simply a transfer of financial responsibility to village residents.

As a result, residents are faced with $70 million worth of additional costs which have increased substantially over the last seven years.

A single Member of the NSW Civil & Administrative tribunal (NCAT) has held that the cost of painting must be borne by residents in villages and that this is maintenance of the underlying building and structure. There has been no appeal decisions from a higher Court on this question under the legislation. Change is needed as operators are clapping their hands that they do not wear the cost of painting their village. These costs can be significant. Legislative change is needed, or alternatively, a clear judgement of a higher appellate Court declaring that operators should wear this cost.

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