Cooperating with residents of a retirement village
You are required at all times to:
- respect the rights of retirement village residents
- not unreasonably interfere with, or allow interference with the reasonable peace, comfort and privacy of a resident
- take reasonable steps to ensure a resident (or their guests) do not interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort and privacy of another resident
- use your best endeavours to ensure each resident lives in an environment free from harassment and intimidation
- respect the right of a resident to have autonomy over their personal, domestic or financial affairs or possessions
- not restrict a resident from exercising self-reliance in matters relating to their personal, domestic or financial affairs
- respond to correspondence from a resident (or their representative) within 21 days of receiving it and provide a complete response to the correspondence.
You may enter a resident's unit:
- if you reasonably believe a person's health or safety is at risk
- to do urgent repairs
- in an emergency
- if authorised by law.
Both residents and retirement village operators are required to comply with behavioural standards. These obligations are enforceable through the dispute resolution procedures outlined in the Act.
A dispute about a person's rights and obligations is defined as a retirement village dispute. Dispute resolution procedures are detailed in the Retirement Villages Act 1999.
Read below for more about dispute resolution processes.
By law, residents may establish a residents' committee by way of election and make, change or revoke village by-laws by special resolution with your approval as the village operator. As the village operator you must not unreasonably withhold your agreement.
The function of the residents committee is to communicate with you on behalf of village residents about the day-to-day running of the village and any complaints or proposals raised by residents.
They can also:
- contribute to village processes
- require you to attend a residents' committee meeting before the start of the financial year to discuss the draft budgets for the capital replacement fund, maintenance reserve fund and general services charges fund.
The Act provides for meetings of all residents for certain purposes. These meetings are separate from and unrelated to the residents' committee's functions.
As the village operator, you must call an annual meeting of all the residents, and the residents' committee or you can call a general meeting of residents when required. For the purposes of these non-residents' committee meetings, residents have '1 vote per unit', which protects the rights of single occupants. If residents would prefer a '1 vote per person' rule, they can vote to introduce it. Residents can nominate another person to exercise their proxy vote if they cannot attend meetings. You The village operator cannot hold a resident's proxy vote and no person can hold more than 2 proxy votes per meeting.
You can attend a meeting called by residents, or a meeting of the residents' committee, only when invited or voting on a special resolution.
A proposed Closure and Redevelopment Plan can be approved by residents of the retirement village by a special resolution passed at a residents meeting. Read more about changes in village operations.
Residents' village by-laws
Residents may make, change or revoke village by-laws under the procedures set out in section 130 of the Retirement Villages Act 1999.
The Retirement Villages Act 1999 outlines the process for managing complaints and resolving disputes between residents and operators.
There is a 3-step process for resolving disputes regarding residence contracts in retirement villages.
Step 1: Internal negotiation
First try to resolve the dispute within the village. Write to the other party detailing the dispute and suggest a date for a meeting. Give them at least 14 days' notice.
The other party must respond in writing within 7 days of receiving the notice. Then you meet to resolve the dispute.
Operators should have documented processes for resolving disputes internally. This information should be in the village comparison document or public information document if the contract was signed before 1 February 2019.
You may also contact a Dispute Resolution Centre, which offers free confidential and impartial mediation services to assist in resolving disputes.
Deal with complaints fairly by:
- making it easy for a resident to raise problems with you
- treating residents with genuine empathy, courtesy, patience, honesty and fairness
- responding to the problem quickly and telling the resident how you will handle it and when you will give them a response
- understanding the full nature of their problem – listen carefully, ask questions, clarify the situation and summarise the situation back to them
- telling the resident what will happen next and ensure they are happy with how the process will proceed
- informing the resident regularly of progress
- promptly completing all promised actions
- clearly advising the resident about the outcome of their problem and action you will take to stop the problem happening again.
As a village operator you may decide to become a signatory to the Retirement Living Code of Conduct. The Code aims to improve standards across the industry and promotes and protects the interests of current and future residents.
The Code is the initiative of 2 peak industry bodies representing retirement living operators across Australia—the Retirement Living Council (which is part of the Property Council of Australia) and Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), formally recognised as Leading Age Services Australia (LASA).
Step 2: Mediation
If you cannot resolve your dispute through internal negotiation, you can apply for mediation through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
- complete 3 copies of QCAT's Form 3 – Dispute notice for referral to mediation
- pay the filing fee
- lodge the application (see the form for lodgement options).
QCAT will appoint a mediator within 14 days and give you 7 days' notice of the meeting's date, time and location. The mediation conference is private and no record is kept.
The mediator uses an informal process to help you resolve your dispute.
Lawyers may represent the parties if the mediator approves. Other people may also join the mediation if the mediator believes they have relevant interest in the dispute.
If both parties reach an agreement, the mediator records the agreement, both parties sign it, and the mediator gives a copy to QCAT.
Step 3: Tribunal hearing
You can apply to QCAT for a hearing if:
- parties cannot reach agreement
- 1 party does not attend mediation
- the parties cannot settle the dispute within 4 months
- 1 party claims the other has not complied with the mediation agreement within the specified time (or 2 months of the agreement if no time is specified).
- complete 3 copies of QCAT's Form 31 – Application for a tribunal hearing
- pay the filing fee
- lodge the application.
Once QCAT registers the application and gives a copy to the other party, it sends a directions hearing notice to the parties.
At a directions hearing, QCAT considers preliminary matters, including a timetable for the parties to prepare their statements and documents for the hearing. Parties can attend the directions hearing by phone.
QCAT then sends a hearing notice to the parties with the hearing's location, time and date.
Both parties must attend and QCAT can hear evidence without a party.
Afterwards, QCAT notifies both parties in writing of the outcome and any orders it has made.
In some circumstances, applications can be made to QCAT for a hearing without going through internal negotiation or mediation.
These include when someone:
- threatens to remove, or actually removes, a resident from the retirement village
- threatens to deprive, or actually deprives, a resident of the right to live in the village
- threatens to restrict, or actually restricts, a resident's use of the retirement village land
- gives a resident false or misleading documents to the financial detriment of the resident
- fails to fulfil requirements regarding exit entitlements and unit resale
- is a party to a building work dispute (about reinstatement or renovation work)
- is a party to a mandatory buy-back dispute.