MEDIATION WITH MIKE – Misc Articles

Adding a New Spouse to Your Lease

The husband (recently married couple) is seeking to get his new wife added to his lease. The ARQRV Member has spent thousands of dollars to date on lawyer’s fees. Past President, Les and Vice President Mike have written supporting correspondence to the document written by the member.

Following multiple telephone calls and e-mails the member has accepted the operator’s offer which we believe reasonable and fair when taking account of the fact that the operator was under no obligation to take any action!. In another village, different scheme operator, a member has recently remarried and seeks to have her new husband added to her lease. We have written advising how this might be possible but have stressed that the operator is, again, under no obligation to oblige.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Water and Council Rates

A member who lives in a serviced apartment had challenged the water and council rates element of his monthly fee and was getting nowhere. He had obtained copies of the Water rates bills and found a discrepancy of $55.81 each month. This discrepancy is thought to be replicated in the rest of the apartments meaning that a significant total sum was involved.

It is pleasing to report that this matter has been successfully resolved in favour of the resident. Both ARQRV members and non-members have benefitted from the representation to the scheme operator undertaken by ARQRV

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Independent Facilitator

To move a “Village Management Restructure” forward, Vice President, Mike has undertaken the role of an independent facilitator at a north-side village.

The Scheme operator has agreed to pay the cost of the Vice President’s travel to the necessary meetings as well as the costs of obtaining legal advice.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Legal Expenses

This dispute concerning the charging to residents of legal expenses incurred by the scheme operator which are in fact a corporate expense has now been the subject of a s154 mediation meeting at which no agreement was reached.

In the anticipation of mediation by QCAT, ARQRV have requested an opinion from David Wise.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Village Redevelopment

Residents in a village, which is in the process of being de populated prior to redevelopment, has a problem in that they have thousands of dollars in the residents’ committee bank account but no residents’ committee to deal with its disposal.

The ARQRV Committee have advised them to form a committee promptly.  ARQRV Committee have advised that with no residents’ committee this money should not be touched.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Village Parking Issue

A scheme operator is selling units with permission to convert garages and carports into living accommodation and telling the new residents that it is acceptable to park in the limited visitor parking bays. This is resulting in visitors having to park on the road outside the village. An ARQRV Member is opposing this and has the local council’s ear with regard to a breach of the original planning consent.

As there has been no breach of the Act or the resident’s contracts, the ARQRV are powerless to act directly. We are however corresponding with the operator and advising our member in the hope of getting the practice stopped.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Budget Issues in Villages

A small group of villages have budget and a number of other problems which the ARQRV Committee have been attempting to resolve for some time. The management of these villages do not appear to be wilfully breaching the RV Act but they in fact are! This may require additional ARQRV Committee resources to get this group of village’s issues and budgets compliant with the Act. Residents are bound to not want a large increase in fees but this may be necessary to restore compliance to their budgets. A resident is attending QCAT and has elected to represent himself.

The ARQRV Committee have now reported this operator to Minister de Brenni at the Department of Housing and Public Works for multiple breaches of the Act which we are not able to resolve with our limited resources and await the wheels of Government turning.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Unaddressed Defects

Two new ARQRV Members at the same village have sought the committee’s advice regarding unaddressed defects in their recently acquired Unit. Members of the ARQRV Committee have advised them of the correct procedure to get these defects remedied and information that has been fed back indicates that the advised procedure is being followed and appears to be working.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

Family (Non Member) Advice

Following a request to our President we responded to an enquiry from the family member of a retirement village resident concerning who may serve on a residents committee. Although outside our constitution we gave the requested advice.   (It was a simple reply and better than a blunt refusal because the questioner was not an ARQRV member) but I took care to promote membership of ARQRV.

Michael Fairbairn – 4th April 2016

 

Moving the operator’s expenses into village budgets.

When checking village budgets we have identified a number of examples of “creative accounting” whereby scheme operators have sought to move their operational expenses to the village budget. Some operators use their army of accountants and lawyers to devise ways of further gouging their residents whilst presenting a compliant budget.

Selling units on a different basis to that on which they were purchased.

Some operators are choosing to only offer units for resale to the market on “Non-Capital Appreciation” leases. If a departing resident had a “Capital Appreciation” lease (which, when purchased, would have typically cost 10% more) and the operator has placed a selling value on the market on a Non Capital Appreciation basis the departing resident will be 10% (gross) short on their exit entitlements.

Operator loans being introduced into budgets.

When a village is being developed the income from units is insufficient to meet to cost of infrastructure (community centre, Manager’s salary etc.) which are incurred from day one. Most operators accept this as part of the development cost and pick up the shortfall in order to keep the monthly fee quoted to prospective residents competitive. Operators have not been averse recently to introducing an “operator’s loan” to the village budget ( to cover this “loan” in retrospect) with the intention of recovering it by deducting from the village General Service Fund later. One operator introduced the item and simultaneously deducted it in the same budget!

Maintain, repair, yes but is Replace included?

Many PID documents include the resident being required to “Maintain and repair” capital items fitted within their units. On a number of occasions, when the capital item is “beyond economic repair”, the operator has claimed that the resident is obliged to replace their capital item. If this happens to you seek advice!

Operator’s insurance policy claim. Who pays the insurance excess?

Where a capital item was damaged and a successful insurance claim made on the operator’s insurance policy the operator may attempt to offload the insurance excess to the resident. The principle here is simple. The operator’s property was damaged. A claim was made on the operator’s insurance policy. It follows that the operator should pay the insurance excess on his policy which covered his property. If, however, the resident caused the damage wilfully or negligently the operator’s insurers have the right claim reimbursement from the resident.

Monthly fee payment method changes.

A number of scheme operators have taken to issuing “instructions” to their residents that their monthly fees must in future be paid by Direct Debit. If your contract to reside, of which the PID is a part, includes this obligation you must do so. If no method of payment is specified then the resident is free to pay by any means convenient to them provided it is legal. And remember that your contract can only be changed with your agreement.

Putting another person (usually a new spouse) onto an existing lease.

An article on this appeared our newsletter and it generated a huge telephone response. Each operator reacts differently to these requests. ARQRV took legal advice on this and the three alternatives are published on our website (which is accessible to members only). Bear in mind that the operator is under no obligation to accommodate a request of this nature. Your contract to reside can only be changed with the agreement of both parties.

Do the Federal and State Governments have conflicting positions on the status of leasehold retirement village residents?

In a single word, yes! Centerlink say we are homeowners for the purposes of the State Pension while the State says we cannot get rates rebates because we are not home owners!

Village by Laws, who can initiate introduction?

Anyone can put a suggestion to the resident’s committee who should put the proposal to a special meeting called for the purpose. A 75% vote in favour by those entitled to vote at the meeting (or by proxy or postal vote) would carry the proposal.

Village staffing information available to residents.

Residents are not entitled to know how much each member of staff earns but they are entitled to be aware of the total figure for budgeting purposes. A reasonable operator would not have reason to withhold details of who holds which positions, hours of work and other non-confidential information because, after all, they are paid by the residents from their fees! A non-budgeted increase in staff or wages should trigger the need for a special meeting and a vote.

Rising Water Costs

A check with your water supply company (via their website) should reveal whether or not you are on the correct tariff. Look for a Retirement Village tariff. The diameter of the main meter(s) into the village may not be appropriate. This is complex and ARQRV can provide working examples of possible reductions in both areas. Any applications to change your village tariff or the size of your village meter(s) should be addressed to your scheme operator.

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