NEW LAWS SET TO CHANGE THE WAY RETIREMENT VILLAGES OPERATE FOLLOWING AVEO INVESTIGATION

Written on the 10 July 2017 by Ben Hall

NEW LAWS SET TO CHANGE THE WAY RETIREMENT VILLAGES OPERATE FOLLOWING AVEO INVESTIGATION RETIREMENT villages in Queensland will have to simplify contracts and make clauses like exit fees clearer under proposed new laws the state government wants in place by the end of the year.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says a bill will be introduced into Parliament soon to give clear and stringent protection to seniors living in retirement villages and aged care complexes in Queensland.

"My government consulted widely over the past 18 months and it's very clear that the rights of people who live in retirement villages just aren't in line with the expectations of the community," Premier Palaszczuk says.

"We intend to put in place a new staged pre-contractual disclosure process, limits on rent increases and minimum behavioural standards for park owners, staff and home owners," she says.

The planned legislation follows an 18-month consultation period, which also coincided with a Four Corners and Fairfax Media investigation, which revealed exorbitant fees and complex contracts at retirement village company Aveo (ASX: AOG).

The joint investigation, which was broadcast last month, revealed stories of financial loss experienced by some of the residents in Aveo retirement villages who are not given adequate support from "underfunded" consumer affairs bodies.

At the centre of the report, Four Corners spoke with residents and former residents and revealed the contracts they signed which include specific clauses relating to property sales and ongoing fees.

These contracts have been described by lawyers and consumer advocates as "complex" and "rapacious".

The news partnership also spoke to current and former residents as well as their children, lawyers, former Aveo staff and lobby groups to substantiate its evidence.

Four Corners and Fairfax journalists probed mainly into Aveo's contracting and property sales processes, as well as the overall treatment of residents at its aged care facilities.

Questions included why Aveo Group's exit fees, or "deferred management fees", varied between individual contracts and why formers residents were still being charged maintenance fees after they left the villages.

The journalists also inquired about Aveo's property valuation scheme, and why there have been reported cases where residents have been waiting years to sell properties which have been valued at less than the median market or purchase price.

Business News Australia

Author: Ben Hall

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