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Retirement villages under federal scrutiny

After years of campaigning for retirement housing reform by COTA Victoria, Consumer Action Law Centre, Housing for the Aged Action Group and Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria, a joint investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners and Fairfax Media lifted the lid on misleading advertising, exorbitant fees and complex contracts by retirement village operator Aveo.

COTA Victoria supports the resulting investigation initiated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and wants to see the issue on COAG’s agenda so that all states commit retirement housing reform. Other forms of retirement housing, such as residential parks also charge extraordinary fees. In recent days there has been significant coverage over the ‘satisfaction survey’ by McCrindle Baynes Village Census Report from 2013. This report also found that “39% of recent purchases regarded (deferred management fees) as unreasonable”. The methodology and survey design has also come under scrutiny.  Almost 800 submissions were received by the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Retirement Housing – the majority from ‘unhappy’ residents. The Victorian government is due to hand down its response to the Inquiry in a few months. We urge the government to take a leadership role in reforming the retirement housing sector by fully reviewing legislation, establishing a an Independent Industry Ombudsman, simplifying contracts and introducing accreditation and training qualifications for village managers and staff.

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