Retirement village sign-up caution

Older people are urged to seek professional advice, rather than rely on family and friends, when making the complex decision of choosing a retirement village.

 

Research released today by Consumer Affairs Victoria shows a concerning trend, that senior Victorians are more likely to rely on the advice of family and friends, than a lawyer, financial planner or another professional.

 

Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Dr Claire Noone said the findings of the Newspoll survey - conducted in June with nearly 300 Victorians aged 50-plus - were concerning, given the complexity of retirement village contracts and the financial implications involved in moving into one.

 

“Moving into a retirement village is a big decision,” Dr Noone said.

 

“Retirement village contracts are complex – take the time to understand the commitment you are making, and seek independent, professional advice.”

 

During the 2011-12 financial year, Consumer Affairs Victoria received over 500 enquiries about retirement villages and more than 100 complaints.

 

Resident complaints were made about exit and entry fees, maintenance fees and disputes with operators and managers.

 

Although nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed believed that they, a family member or a friend might consider moving into a retirement village, many were unsure of where to seek information and advice.

 

“Almost two out of five survey respondents over 65 didn’t consider seeking advice from a lawyer, financial planner or any other professional,” Dr Noone said. “Almost one in ten said they would not seek advice from any of these professionals, or did not know who they would ask for advice.”

 

About 30,000 senior Victorians live in retirement villages – a figure that is expected to rise as the state’s population ages.

 

Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website, www.consumer.vic.gov.au, has comprehensive information for Victorians considering moving into a retirement village. It is also conducting a state-wide education program to inform potential residents about what is involved in moving into a village, and current residents about their rights.

 

Consumer Affairs Victoria earlier this month launched good practice protocols and internal dispute resolution guidelines, designed to help operators and managers understand their responsibilities and more effectively resolve disputes.

 

More information is available for prospective residents at www.consumer.vic.gov.au/retire and for managers and operators at www.consumer.vic.gov.au/retirementvillageoperators

 

The statistics:

  • The Newspoll survey was conducted over the period of 8-10 June 2012 and 15-17 June 2012 in Victoria among 288 respondents aged 50 years or over.

  • Respondents aged 50 - 64 years were more likely to ask a lawyer, financial planner or other professionals for advice (79.6 per cent) than family and friends (53.9 per cent)

  • Respondents over 65 were more likely to ask family or friends for advice (66.6 per cent) than a lawyer, financial planner or another professional (62.1 per cent)

  • 8.5 per cent of all respondents didn’t know who they would ask for advice.

 

12 July 2012.