Heffernan, R. ‘Buyback is Unfair, Says Son – Woman, 98, Offered Half Price for Retirement Unit,’ The Sunday Mail, June 08, 2008, p. 42.

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The owner of a Hervey Bay retirement village has been accused of offering one of its unit owners, who is sick and
infirm, less than half what government-approved valuers say her property is worth.
The dispute is at Urimbirra Retirement Village in Torquay, which is owned by New South Wales-based Milstern
Retirement Services. The company owner admits the complex has become troubled.
Four cases involving Urimbirra Village, relating to service and maintenance fees and alleged failures by Milstern to
provide accounting records, are before the Commercial and Consumer Tribunal.
Urimbirra residents claim Milstern has bought back the leases of at least 30 of the 49 units in the complex. Some
believe Milstern may want to buy all the leases so the site can be redeveloped.
But Milstern’s owner, Millie Phillips, said some residents had affected the village’s reputation through complaints to
the State Office of Fair Trading and Minister for Justice Kerry Shine.
“There is a mile of documents of complaints and the complaints have no basis and now no one wants to buy there.
They are like the animal that eats its own entrails and now they want me to come in and buy their places from
them. I’m not obligated to look after their financial affairs,’’ Ms. Phillips said.
The property of a 98-year-old dementia patient is at the centre of one dispute with Milstern.
Eunice Holland and her late husband James bought a 99-year lease in Urimbirra village in 1993 for $76,000.
Mrs. Holland had to leave the village in 2006 because of illness and is in a fulltime care facility in Hervey Bay.
Although property values in the area have soared, Milstern offered $55,000 for Mrs Holland’s unit in 2006,
according to her son, Jim. An independent valuation by a valuer approved by the Office of Fair Trading in March
2005 had estimated the property to be worth as much as $120,000, documents show.
Had the offer been accepted, after paying exit fees, Mrs. Holland would have been left with $43,000, he claimed.
“It wasn’t really a problem until she tried to leave. It’s gone backwards ever since. (My parents) did nothing wrong,
they stuck by the rules every day that they lived there.’’
Details of the dispute emerged after a Sunday Mail report last week into the billion-dollar ‘grey tsunami’’ retirement
village industry, now dominated by high-profile public companies.
Comments from our readers after last week’s report on retirement villages included:
It certainly sounds the warning bells for baby boomers to think carefully before parting with their hard-earned
money. (Eva Bennett)
It is unfortunate that the present oldies are people born of a trusting period, when a man’s word was his bond.
(Tom Besford)
I feel sure that most accountants would advise people not to purchase unless the unit was termed ‘freehold.’
(Pamela Arrigoni)
Buyer beware is so true!! The name of the game is profit! (Charles Tumath)