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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Have your say on retirement village exit fees

The Queensland Government is seeking community feedback on the recommendations of an independent report into timeframes for exit payments in Queensland retirement villages, and the government’s response.

Communities and Housing Minister, Leeanne Enoch said retirement village residents, operators and stakeholders could have their say and help shape the Queensland Government’s implementation of the recommendations.

“It is important to get this right, so we are seeking feedback from those who are engaged with retirement villages in any way, about the benefits, costs and implementation challenges of the recommendations,” she said.

Ms Enoch said an independent review was required to start two years after commencement of changes to the Retirement Villages Act 1999, to determine the impact of the changes on residents, former residents, families of residents, and operators.

“In 2017, we amended the Act to provide greater security and confidence to retirement village residents in Queensland,” she said.

“These amendments include a requirement for retirement village operators to pay exit entitlements within 18 months of a resident’s departure, unless doing so would cause the operator undue hardship.

“These were important amendments to help former residents, who desperately needed to secure their exit payments, to provide for their ongoing accommodation and care as they aged.”

The Minister said the review was completed by an independent panel and found exit entitlements and buyback requirements were generally operating well.

The report includes four recommendations about the ongoing operation of exit entitlements and buybacks, as well as three recommendations outside of the scope of the panel’s Terms of Reference.

The recommendations are:

  1. To reduce the timeframe for payment of exit entitlements and buybacks from 18 to 12 months, with a modification of how that timeframe commences;
  2. To set six months as the maximum period that may be granted to an operator as an extension and to broaden the grounds on which an extension can be granted;
  3. To create a simple and accessible mechanism for extension applications, to be decided by the Director-General of the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy; and
  4. To exclude resident-operated freehold retirement villages from mandatory buybacks.

The additional recommendations were in relation to ongoing service fees, moving to a residential aged care facility and rent advances.

Ms Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government fully or partly accepted the first three recommendations, but consultation would be needed to ensure they are implemented in the best possible way.

The fourth recommendation was a priority already committed to by the government and was implemented by the Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021.

“We will seek feedback from stakeholders on all of the review panel’s recommendations and investigate their costs and benefits for residents, villages and government,” she said.

“Consultation will open soon, and stakeholders will have six weeks to provide feedback.

“We want to know how different parties may be affected by the proposed changes, including any positive or negative impacts of an economic or social nature.

“We want to hear from as many Queenslanders as possible, so I encourage you to submit your feedback.

“I’d also like to thank the panel for in-depth consideration of all the feedback from stakeholders and for their recommendations.”

More information on the final report and how to provide your feedback on the government response is available at: https://www.chde.qld.gov.au/about/initiatives/retirement-village-exit-payments

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