The Department of Commerce is currently in the process of drafting new regulations under section 14A of the Retirement Villages Act 1992 (WA) (the Act). This will be the second set of changes to the Act and are expected to be released before the end of the year. These additional regulations will stipulate what can and what cannot be included into a resident’s contract. They will also be accompanied by a fully revision of the Fair Trade Regulations, under the Fair Trading Act 2010.
The new changes will build upon the first wave of changes introduced on April 1st 2014 after an extensive review of the law and its operation in WA, as well as issues and approaches in other states. The changes were aimed at stronger protection of resident’s interests and wellbeing. Chargeable fees and time frames in the Act were a target of the review. Below is a summary of some of the key changes made in April 2014:
- The cooling off period for signing a residency contract has increased from 5 to now 7 working days. (s 14).
- The timeframe for pre-contractual disclosure went from five up to ten working days (s 13).
- Residents gained the power to pass a special resolution and apply to the State Administrative Tribunal if there is a dispute about recurrent charges (s 57A). A recurrent charge is an ongoing fee that a non-owner resident is liable for once they have vacated the premises.
- There are now limits on the liability of ongoing fees that a non-owner resident can incur after leaving the premises.
- If the financial security or wellbeing of residents is at risk, a statutory manager can now be appointed to manage the village (s 75A-I).
- New restrictions on who can and cannot be directly or indirectly involved in management of a retirement village (s 76-77C). A prohibited person may apply to the commissioner for express approval. If a prohibited person was in such a position already and does not attain approval, they have until 1st of October to leave that position.
- Certain costs are now exempt from being passed on to residents through the village operating budget (s 25). For example: legal costs; depreciation costs of assets in the village; marketing and refurbishment.
- The timeframe that a person may bring proceedings to a court for an offence under the Act has increased from 2 to 3 years (s 80).
- The penalty for an offence against the regulations has increased from a maximum of $500 to $5,000 (s 82).
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.