The Retirement Villages Amendment (Information Disclosure) Bill 2012 introduced into the Victorian Parliament in October 2012 was recently passed and has received Royal Assent.
The Act, whilst yet to be proclaimed, requires operators to provide a factsheet and to facilitate inspection of prescribed documents held by them to retirees inquiring about their village and to prospective residents about to sign a contract to enter their retirement village.
The Act will commence operation on or before 1 March 2014.
In relation to the requirement to provide a factsheet, operators should note that:
- If a retired person, or a person acting on behalf of that retired person, requests a factsheet relating to the retirement village (whether orally or in writing), the owner or manager of the village must provide that factsheet free of charge and within 7 days after the request is made.
- If the owner or manager of a retirement village, or his or her agent, gives or sends targeted promotional material to a retired person, or to a person acting on behalf of a retired person, the owner or manager must ensure that a copy of the factsheet is included in the material. “Targeted promotional material” is defined under the Act to mean material given or addressed personally and does not include marketing material distributed generally in a mail-out or letter-box drop.
- The factsheet must be in the form approved by the Director of Consumer Affairs, contain the prescribed information and presented in a clear, concise and effective manner. Whilst the Director of Consumer Affairs has yet to provide an approved form and regulations formally setting what is required by way of prescribed information are yet to be made, the Minister, in his second reading speech, indicated that the information proposed for the factsheet includes matters such as the number and size of units in the retirement village, any proposals for further development of the village, the services and facilities available to residents, the range of entry, ongoing and departure costs and the financial status of the village.
- The owner or manager of a retirement village is not required to provide a copy of the factsheet in response to a request from a retired person or a person acting on behalf of a retired person if the factsheet was included with the targeted promotional material, that person has been provided with a copy of the factsheet and the information in the factsheet has not changed in a material particular.
- A factsheet must be provided to a resident 21 days before a resident enters into any management contract. The manager of the retirement village is not required to do this if a retired person or a person acting on behalf of a retired person has been previously provided with a copy of the factsheet and the information in the factsheet has not changed in a material particular since it was provided.
In relation to the requirement to facilitate inspection of certain documents, operators should note:
- If a retired person, or a person acting on behalf of that retired person, requests the owner or manager of the village or agent of the owner or manager, whether orally or in writing to inspect one or more prescribed documents, the owner or manager must make any of the requested documents that are in his or possession or control available for inspection free of charge and within 7 days after the request is made.
- The owner or manager is not required to make a document available if the retired person or a person acting on behalf of that retired person has previously inspected the document and the document has not changed in a material particular since that inspection.
- In his second reading speech, the Minister indicated that the documents proposed to be made available for inspection include the village site plan, construction plans, planning permissions, financial statements and blank forms of the contracts that will need to be signed.
- At least 21 days before a resident enters into any management contract, the manager, if the resident has not previously inspected any of the prescribed documents, must advise the resident that he or she has a right to do so.