Plan for change
Navigate a new phase with peace of mind
As you age, you can face many complex decisions that affect your life including your accommodation, finances and health. We know these moments often cause stress, confusion and worry.
At Novum Law Group, we take the time to know you and your circumstances and offer personalised, compassionate guidance so you can move ahead with peace of mind. We can support you in a range of services including estate planning, retirement village contracts and reverse mortgage/equity release contracts.
Retirement Village and Assisted Living Contracts
Reverse Mortgage and Equity Release Contracts
Set yourself up for a worry-free retirement
A retirement village is a communal living arrangement where most residents are aged 55 years or over or if younger are retired from full time work. Different villages offer different contracts and types of tenure, unit types and facilities and services.
It’s important to navigate the legal aspects of retirement village contracts with care – understanding entry fees, ongoing costs, exit fees and your obligations as a resident. The village operator must give you certain disclosure documents at least 21 days before you sign the residence contract. You must obtain legal and financial advice, before you sign, check that any verbal representations made to you are included, and seek clarification of any aspect you are not sure about.
Residents have legal rights and responsibilities outlined in legislation and in the rules or by-laws of the village. The rules or by-laws of the Village are about the use, enjoyment, control and management of the village. They may be included in the residence documents given to you before you enter the village. They usually deal with pets, car parking, visitors and guests and the external appearance of the resident’s premises, use of facilities and services. Rules can only be created, changed or revoked by special resolution. If the village has an owner’s corporation, you must also follow the owner’s corporation rules regarding the use of common property.
You will have to pay a range of fees and charges to enter into, live in and to exit a retirement village. Some fees may continue even after you leave. The fees you have to pay depends on the residence contract and are set out in the disclosure documents given to you before you enter the village. You will have to pay ingoing contributions which may be an interest free loan or a deposit. You will also have to pay fees for personal services, and maintenance charges, which is your share of the cost to upkeep the village. The maitenance charge can be increased only in line with the annual consumer price index but a bigger increase can be allowed in certain circumstances, for example, if a majority of the residents’ committee approves it.
All villages in Victoria must have an internal dispute resolution process to deal with complaints, whether it is about management, or disputes between residents. The process must be in writing and can be obtained from the village operator. The document must provide information about when and where complaints can be made and to whom, and how the dispute will be handled. It will also provide information about other options for dispute resolution such as seeking help from the residents’ committee, Consumer Affairs Victoria or applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (but only if the matter relates to an owner’s corporation issue). Disputes with the operator can be resolved with the assistance of Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.
Existing a retirement village involves legal considerations like exist fees and the resale process. The process will be determined by the structure of your right to occupy which is contained in your residence contract. In most cases, after taking these fees into account, you may be left with less money than when you entered the village.
If you are an owner resident, you have the right to select your own selling agent to whom you will pay a sales commission, but the village operator can decide whether to approve the buyer as a resident. Your selling agent may still charge you a fee where the village does not approve the buyer. On leaving, you may also have to pay a share of the capital gain and departure fees drawn from the proceeds of the sale. If there is an owner’s corporation, you will continue to pay those fees until settlement of your sale, no matter how long it takes for you to find a buyer.
Safeguarding your interests may involve updating your will, making a power of attorney and appointing a medical treatment decision maker. A power of attorney enables you to appoint a trusted friend or family member to manage your legal and financial affairs if you are unable to do so, or do not wish to do so yourself. Your appointed medical treatment decision maker can make decisions about medical treatment matters when you no longer have the capacity to make those decisions yourself.