THE OWNER of a Mandurah retirement village has been fined $5000 in Perth Magistrates Court for failing to provide specific information to potential residents prior to them signing contracts.
Stephen Graeme May of Mosman Park, who owns the Willow Creek Mews retirement village in Greenfields, pleaded guilty on January 31 to failing to provide a Form 1 as prescribed by the Retirement Villages Act to three prospective residents between September 2013 and February 2014.
He was ordered to pay costs of $1938.
Consumer Protection was ordered to pay his costs of $1000 to defend the charges.
May pleaded not guilty to five other charges and was acquitted after a two day trial.
Under the Act, a Form 1 containing specific information relating to the retirement village, a notice of rights, a copy of the residence rules, a copy of any applicable code and any other prescribed documents are to be supplied by the retirement village owner at least 10 working days prior to a contract being signed.
Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard said this requirement is designed to provide transparency in retirement village contracts.
“Getting the prescribed information and having its receipt acknowledged ensures that potential residents have all the information they need at their fingertips to make an informed decision,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Entering into a retirement village contract is a major lifestyle decision for our community and their families, so these laws are crucial to make sure potential residents have specific and essential information before signing,” he said.
“Failing to provide the information in the form prescribed by retirement village regulations is not acceptable and village owners who do not comply may face action by Consumer Protection.”
In December 2016, the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) issued orders to the company that operated the retirement village, Mayco Properties Pty Ltd and its Directors Stephen Graeme May and Louis Stephen May, to remove misleading statements from the village’s website as well as to address maintenance issues.
The company was ordered to write to residents and post on its website clarifying statements including the resident’s right to occupy the villa through a lease; residents don’t buy any portion of the villa; the lease does not provide the absolute security of home ownership; the company does not discount utility charges and residents may be charged at a rate higher than the residential tariff but residents may be eligible for state government discounts.
The SAT also ordered the company and its Directors to establish a more effective maintenance system at the village where residents’ maintenance requests are reported, tracked and resolved.
Stephen May said the errors in the documentation were found during the construction phase in 2013 and they were rectified long before the Department became involved.
“A combination of errors were made by myself and my lawyer,” Mr May said.
“That’s the bottom of it the rest is nonsense – all of the charges that were brought against us during the construction stage in 2013 were due to poor documentation which we accept, but they had been rectified long before the Department got involved.
“The errors were fixed in 2013 but the case has been going on since then.
“During the construction stage in 2013 the errors were found in the documents and SAT were happy we found these areas and it was accepted by the SAT, but all we had to do was issue a statement saying we had to apologise for the statements in 2016.”