Resolving disputes in your retirement village

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Ways to resolve retirement village complaints and disputes

The nature of your dispute determines which avenue you can use to resolve the problem:

Internal dispute resolution process

Victorian retirement villages must have an internal process to deal with complaints about management of the retirement village and disputes between residents.

This is called an 'internal dispute resolution scheme'. It must be detailed in writing and copies of it must be readily available from the retirement village manager.

The document must detail:

  • when and where complaints can be made, and to whom
  • how a complaint about management or a dispute between residents will be handled
  • information about other options for dispute resolution - the document must inform residents that they may seek information and advice from Consumer Affairs Victoria, and include our contact details.

Complaints about management

You do not have to use the retirement village's internal dispute resolution process.

You can:

  • contact us for information and advice
  • seek assistance from DSCV
  • apply to VCAT
  • seek independent legal advice.

Disputes between residents

You do not have to use the retirement village's internal dispute resolution process.

You can also:

  • seek assistance from your residents' committee
  • contact us for information and advice
  • contact DSCV for advice on dispute resolution assistance
  • apply to VCAT, if the dispute is between owners corporation (formerly body corporate) members about owners corporation issues. VCAT cannot deal with disputes between residents in a retirement village that does not have an owners corporation.

Retirement village manager responsibilities

Retirement village managers must:

  • put in writing the procedures for:
    • handling management complaints, and
    • mediating disputes between residents
  • inform you of the internal dispute resolution scheme and make copies of the document available
  • for all complaints, record the parties involved, date, nature of the complaint and outcomes/actions taken
  • for any complaint not resolved within 72 hours (not counting weekends and public holidays), establish a separate record and keep it up-to-date
  • present a report on complaints to the annual meeting of residents, including:
    • the number and types
    • action taken and outcome
    • changes made or proposed to address issues identified as requiring a broader response.

This report must not identify parties to the dispute.

The retirement village manager must not:

  • require you to complain in writing
  • take action to resolve a dispute without the consent of all the parties
  • deal with a dispute between residents if it is already being dealt with by the residents' committee
  • deter you from complaining
  • penalise you because you have made a complaint - or plan to do so
  • prevent you from being represented throughout the resolution process
  • use a process that is inconsistent with the law (for example, privacy laws) or the terms of your contract
  • identify parties to a dispute in the report to the annual meeting of residents.

Good practice protocols

Good practice protocols specify measures that retirement village managers can take to prevent common issues relating to:

  • changes to services
  • maintenance charges and process
  • what is covered by service and capital charges
  • presentation of the annual financial statement
  • marketing procedures for a unit when a resident leaves or dies
  • ongoing charges after a resident leaves or dies
  • refurbishment and reinstatement of units.

While protocols are not legally binding, there is an expectation that they will be applied by managers.

If a dispute goes to DSCV for dispute resolution assistance, they will look to see if protocols have been followed.

For more information, view our Good practice protocols for retirement village operators section.

Resolving disputes through Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria

DSCV may be able to help resolve a dispute between residents, or between a resident and a retirement village manager.

For more information, visit the DSCV website.

DSCV cannot force an outcome. If you can't agree or if the dispute can't be resolved, you may be able to take the matter to VCAT. The outcome of a VCAT hearing is legally binding.

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