The Queensland Government will increase consumer protections for Queensland seniors in retirement, introducing into Parliament new laws focussing on retirement villages and manufactured homes.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the proposed changes would make a significant difference to Queensland seniors looking at retirement options.
“These news laws will give provide broad ranging, enforceable powers to ensure fairness across the retirement living sectors,” Mr de Brenni said.
“For too long residents of some retirement villages have felt powerless. We owe our older generation better than that.
“This is about making sure that everyone is treated fairly, giving seniors support when they are planning retirement, and after they retire.
‘I would like to thank all of the organisations and community groups who have contributed to the comprehensive consultation on these new protections, particularly members of my Ministerial Housing Council.
“In particular I would like to thank the Council on the Aging, Leading Age Services Australia, National Seniors Australia, Caxton Legal Centre, Property Council of Australia, Queensland Law Society, Queensland Shelter, Association of Residents of Queensland Retirement Villages, the Queensland Council of Social Services, the Queensland Disability Network, Tenants Queensland and the Urban Development Institute of Australia.
“These reforms reflect feedback from a wide range of Queenslanders, and establish a strong regime that will protect Queensland seniors for a long time to come.”
Proposed changes to the Retirement Villages Act 1999 include:
- enabling simplified, standard contracts,
- requiring ongoing fees and charges to be clearly declared upfront,
- introducing a minimum 21 days to evaluate the contract before signing,
- limiting the time for payment of a resident’s exit entitlement
- making unit reinstatement arrangements before resale fairer,
- improving dispute resolution, and
- introducing enforceable behaviour standards for village operators and residents.
Mr de Brenni said the proposed amendments to the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 included strengthening laws controlling rent increases.
“This will provide peace of mind and stability for the residents of manufactured home parks, many of whom are aged over 50 and on pensions,” he said.
“Site rent increases will be limited to once a year and home owners will be consulted before increases are put in place.
“We are also proposing amendments to make the legislation easier to understand, such as making it clearer that separate utility meter reading charges are not allowed.
“Another significant change proposed in the legislation is introducing behavioral standards which focus on how park owners, their staff and residents interact.
“It is designed to safeguard quality of life for everyone in residential parks.”
Mr de Brenni said the government was also committed to taking on board and implementing good ideas from residents and home owners about how to improve things.
“We’ve set aside $1 million over two years to provide advocacy and support through resident associations to assist retirement village residents, manufactured home owners and residents of boarding houses,” Mr de Brenni said
“The funding will be used to develop, in consultation with resident groups, practical improvements, such as identifying what training may be required for village staff or how best to organise resident committees.”
The amendments to the Retirement Villages Act 1999 and Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 form part of the Queensland Housing Strategy 2017-2027 released earlier this year.