Manager's obligations - retirement village dispute resolution guidelines

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Retirement village managers must provide an internal dispute resolution scheme that meets certain legal requirements.

The manager is legally required to:

  • put in writing the procedures for handling management complaints and mediating disputes between residents. For more information, view our Internal dispute resolution document page 
  • inform residents of the dispute resolution procedure and make copies of the internal dispute resolution document readily available to current and prospective residents and their families. We recommend putting these procedure documents somewhere easily visible to residents, so they can take a copy without having to ask 
  • for any complaint not resolved within 72 hours (not counting weekends and public holidays) establish a separate written record and keep it up-to-date. For more information, view our Recording information about a retirement village complaint or dispute page
  • present a de-identified report on complaints, including the outcome and action taken (if any), to the annual meeting of residents. For more information, view our Annual reporting responsibilities - retirement village complaints and disputes page.

Important note: We can now use infringement notices for failing to document a complaint procedure or dispute resolution procedure. The maximum penalty for these infringements is 12 penalty units ($1903.00). Our inspectors will issue infringements in accordance with our compliance policy.

The manager must not:

  • require residents to make complaints in writing 
  • take action to resolve a dispute without the consent of both parties, in disputes between residents
  • take action to resolve a dispute without the consent of the complainant, if the complaint is against management 
  • deter a resident from complaining 
  • cause any disadvantage to a resident because the resident complains 
  • prevent a resident who makes a complaint from being represented throughout the resolution process 
  • use a process which is inconsistent with or overrides existing law (for example, the Privacy Act 1988) or the terms of the resident’s contract 
  • identify parties to a dispute in the report to the annual meeting of residents 
  • deal with a complaint between residents if it is already being dealt with by the residents’ committee.

Sample dispute resolution process

As the manager, you are responsible for the process of resolving a dispute. How you go about this will depend on the nature of the dispute and the parties involved.

Below is a sample dispute resolution process. Some of these steps are mandatory, mainly around the reporting and recording of information. As a manager, make sure you understand your legal obligations for creating and maintaining written records of a management complaint or resident dispute. There are penalties for not complying. For more information, view our Recording information about a retirement village complaint or dispute page

Sample process:

Stage 1: Complaint received.

Stage 2: Acknowledge receipt of the complaint and make a record of it. For more information, view our Recording information about a retirement village complaint or dispute page.

Stage 3: Is the dispute resolved within 72 hours? If yes, inform the complainant of the outcome and make a record of the complaint and resolution. If no, go to stage 4.

Stage 4: Plan dispute resolution approach and inform parties including details of the timeframe. Make a record of this action (mandatory) as soon as practicable and place a copy on the complaint file.

Stage 5: Carry out actions against the plan and continue communicating with the parties. Make a record of each action (mandatory) as soon as practicable and place a copy on the complaint file.

Stage 6: Is the dispute resolved? If yes, inform parties and make a record of the outcome (mandatory) as soon as practicable and place a copy on the complaint file. If no, inform the complainant that they may seek assistance from Consumer Affairs Victoria (mandatory). It is important to record each action and event as it happens.

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