Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2011 Contents RESIDENTS FROM A retirement
village on NSW's mid north coast
recently celebrated a victory in
what they describe as a David
versus Goliath dispute with their
village operator, Stockland,
The Queens Lake Village
(QLV) retirement village residents
versus Stockland (Aevum) case
was first reported on AAA's news
website on 4 February this year.
On 14 April, AAA reported what
the QLV resident group called 'the
final chapter' in their year-long
dispute with the operator.
The dispute concerned the
operator's provision of -- or failure
to provide - sufficient detail
about certain costs presented
in the annual budget to village
residents. These 'line-item'
costs related to 'insurance' and
The dispute was heard in the
Consumer, Trader and Tenancy
Tribunal (CTTT) last December
where the Tribunal found in
favour of the residents. Without
prior discussion or notice to
the residents' group, Stockland
lodged an appeal of the Tribunal
decision in the District Court in
Sydney, to have it overturned.
The appeal made the QLV
residents' group the 'defendants'
and liable for all legal costs
should the CTTT decision be
overturned by the court. The
group argued this amounted to
a dismissal of the only affordable
legal recourse available to them
and would place the residents at
extreme financial disadvantage if
they were to pursue their side of
A peace offering from
Stockland to the residents group
at the final hour, granted them
up to $50,000 for legal fees for
legal counsel of their choice.
It was gratefully welcomed by
the residents and both parties
agreed to proceed with the court
case on the basis that clarity
on the matter was essential for
all future negotiations between
operators and residents in New
At the final hearing in the District
Court on Friday, 8 April, Judge Levy
dismissed Stockland's application
to have the CTTT decision of 9
December overturned. Instead he
upheld the CTTT's decision that the
two contentious line items in the
2010-11 budget, namely insurance
$23,100 and corporate recharge
(management fees) $28,594, be
removed, saving QLV residents
$51,694 this year.
While the QLV residents are
pleased and relieved with the
decision, their spokesperson,
John Cooper, says they remain
concerned that it had to happen
in the first place.
"Residents are very happy
with the result and they're very
relieved. It's been exactly 12
months from the time of the first
meeting and it's been a stressful
time for a lot of residents,"
said Mr Cooper. "They've
been very worried; they didn't
fully understand it and were
concerned about the outcomes
and how they might be affected."
"The situation should never
have got to that stage. If they had
talked and negotiated it would
have been different. There's a lot
to be said for communication,
consultation and negotiation,"
said Mr Cooper.
"In my opinion, they ran an all
or nothing case. There appeared
to be no room for compromise
and look what's happened."
Mr Cooper said it was also his
opinion that the case would set
a new precedent in law. "Firstly,
residents only have to meet the
cost of insurance for the items
related to in the Act and, secondly,
in respect to the budget, residents
are entitled to receive sufficient
detailed information to enable then
to make an informed decision as
to the acceptance or rejection of
"The information must show
that the statement of proposed
expenditure relates directly to
services provided to the operation
of this village," Mr Cooper said.
Lawyer for the QLV residents,
Mr Peter Hill, from Hill and Co
Lawyers on the NSW Central
Coast is equally disappointed
that it became necessary to
pursue the case to this extent.
"It beggars belief that a
large organisation like that
chooses not to meet the Act's
requirements of transparency.
It's a consumer business and
they are selling a lifestyle and
brand is important," said Mr
Hill. "People want to enjoy their
retirement, not be fighting cases
like this in the courts."
"If they had come and said,
here are the amounts of insurance
and here is the breakdown of the
corporate recharge, it could have
been negotiated and settled.
Residents and precedents
The recent case of Stockland versus the residents of Queens Lake
Village has implications for all retirement village operators. Is
this a taste of an emerging new breed of village and aged care
resident, asks Keryn Curtis.
Two previous articles on
this topic are available on
AAA's news website: www.
• 'The devil's in the detail:
RV residents vs operators'
• 'How things happen:
the case of Queens
Both were published on
Friday 4 February 2011
12 | MAY--JUNE2011 | AAA
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