South Australian Retirement Villages Residents Association demand industry overhaul

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The 9500-strong South Australian Retirement Villages Residents Association (SARVRA) claims some operators are “digging into residents’ wallets”.

SARVRA also wants mandatory “education” programs to weed out what it says is a “toxic culture” of bullying and intimidation among some village operators.

The strong words come in a submission to a review of the State’s Retirement Villages Act.

“There’s such an imbalance in the industry that favours the operators,” SARVRA president Bob Ainsworth (pictured) said.

Mr Ainsworth claimed residents who moved out of a retirement village could lose almost half the sales price in fees before also paying marketing expenses, refurbishment and maintenance costs.

Departing residents had to wait up to 18 months to get any money back if their property did not resell sooner. The association wants the operator to be forced to buy the property back within six months.

Usually, 25 per cent of the sale price is kept as the operator’s profit. Departing residents also pay maintenance fees for six months after leaving, unless the property is sold sooner. SARVRA wants to cap this at three months.

In addition, residents of some villages have had an uncapped obligation to pay up to 1.5 per cent of the sale price for every year they lived in the village, with this money going to a capital items replacement fund. SARVRA wants this capped at 10 years.

About 26,400 people live across 540 retirement villages in SA. More than half live in 127 villages run by commercial operators.

The Retirement Living Council, a division of the Property Council, represents 60 per cent of operators in South Australia, and in its submission arguing for the mandatory buyback of a property to remain at 18 months.

Property Council state executive director Daniel Gannon said many larger operators already stumped up the money before reselling a property. “For small operators, a six-month mandatory buyback would just drive them out of business,” he said.

“We just don’t think it’s equitable for all operators.”

A report on the review of the Act is due to be tabled in Parliament later in the year.

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