Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) welcomed this morning’s announcement that the Victorian Liberal National Party Government would introduce an Ombudsman for Retirement Housing issues. The Ombudsman will provide free and binding dispute resolution.
“Our members have been calling for an Ombudsman for the Retirement Housing industry for years,” said HAAG Chair Phyll Williams. “At the moment, older residents struggle to resolve disputes with their managers in quickly, cheaply and fairly. An ombudsman is sorely needed by many residents of retirement housing.”
Ms Williams called on the Andrews government to match the LNP’s commitment. “Now that the Greens and the LNP have expressed support for an Ombudsman, its time for Labor to make it unanimous. Proper protections for older Victorians should not be a partisan issue,” she said.
HAAG operates a Retirement Housing Advice Service which provides advice and advocacy for residents of retirement housing. From basic problems like repairs through to complex contractual disputes, many people contacting the service are unable – and in many cases, too intimidated by their managers – to access affordable, timely dispute resolution.
One client in her 80s spent over six months awaiting a Tribunal hearing when a village operator refused to repair a major leak into her unit that saw her bailing out buckets of water as late as 3am. Others find themselves confused about which fees they are liable to pay when the move out, or struggling with managers who obstruct their attempts to sell their own home. Many residents fear they will face eviction if they’re seen to ‘make trouble’, which can be a financial disaster for retirees who have sunk their life savings into a modest residence. HAAG members argue that an Ombudsman is particularly suited to the needs of older residents.
HAAG executive officer Fiona York said, “Retirement village disputes and the laws and contracts that cover them are often just too complex for people to understand. This leaves residents vulnerable when it comes to everyday problems, and it can also attract rogue operators who actively seek to exploit vulnerable older people. An Ombudsman is essential for fair and safe retirement housing.”
For more information contact Fiona York 0449554142 or
Current clients of Retirement Housing service and older residents are available to provide personal testimonies to the media.