“Fair and balanced” reforms to the retirement living sector, announced by the NSW Government last week, protect residents and will restore the industry’s investment confidence, says the Property Council’s Ben Myers.
Chief among the reforms is the resident’s right to apply for an exit entitlement payment if they feel an operator has “unreasonably delayed” the sale of their property for between six and 12 months.
The policy has evolved since the NSW Government announced a mandatory six-month and 12-month buyback election commitment in February 2019.
“After listening to concerns about the financial impact the policy would have on retirement village operators and residents, the government has developed a more practical and sensible policy that recognises the benefit that the industry has made to the community and the economy of NSW,” says Myers, the Property Council’s executive director for retirement living.
Research shows that each resident in a retirement community saves state government an average of $12,600 per year in reduced health and aged care costs.
Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, says the new reforms will improve access to exit entitlements, create a new mechanism to support residents moving to aged care, and place a 42-day cap on the payment of recurrent charges for general services.
Myers and his team have been working hard to advocate for members, and he says the result has been a collaborative effort with the Retirement Village Residents Association and the NSW Government.
“The NSW Government has shown that it was listening to both the village operators and resident organisations. The result is a suite of reforms which will support people as they transition into aged care and a viable and vibrant seniors housing sector that gives consumers choice.”
While there are “significant” elements of the policy still to be resolved, the NSW Government has promised to enact the reforms by the end of 2020.
Myers says the Property Council will continue to “advocate strongly” to ensure favourable outcomes for the sector on the details of the legislation and policy.
“The retirement village industry is committed to providing safe and secure housing for older Australians. Members of the Retirement Living Council have committed to best practice standards, above and beyond statutory obligations, through the Retirement Living Code of Conduct,” Myer says.
“This commitment has been crystal clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, as operators go ‘above and beyond’ to ensure their communities are safe and well,” Myers concludes.