RETIREMENT village operators have welcomed Consumer Protection’s investigation of complaints across the industry.
The Senior’s Housing Advisory Centre received more than 500 inquiries relating to retirement villages last financial year.
Acting Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said a special unit featuring senior investigators and lawyers was planning a series of “specific investigations” to ensure retirees were not being ripped off by complex contracts or hidden fees and charges.
“We recognise some of the public disquiet that has arisen about certain aspects of the industry so this special investigation unit will examine various contracts being offered by retirement village operators to see if any of those agreements breach the ‘unfair contract terms’ provisions of the Australian Consumer Law,” he said.
“These provisions relate to standard form contracts which may put retirees at a financial disadvantage and apply where there is a significant imbalance between the rights and obligations of the consumer and those of the operator.”
Bethanie runs 13 retirement villages in Perth and WA’s South West, including Riversea Mosman Park.
Chief executive Chris How said he had no issue potentially coming under the spotlight, with Bethanie reviewing and amending contracts earlier this year to ensure they were simple and transparent.
“As more and more operators come into the sector it is integral for the industry and its reputation that they are compliant with requirements of the Retirement Villages Act,” he said
Amana Living has 15 villages across Perth and rural areas, with Mosman Park’s Dorothy Genders and Riley House in Shenton Park among them.
General manager for home care and housing, Jenny Williams, said the retirement living sector was already well regulated, but more attention would not hurt.