What happens if there’s a fire or natural disaster?
At a glance

If the home you occupy within a retirement village is damaged through no fault of your own, such as in a fire or natural disaster, the operator must consult with you to determine whether it is practicable to repair or replace the home. This article summarises the most likely outcomes, as well as the Fire Protection and Emergency Management clauses from the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008.

Most likely outcomes following a fire or natural disaster

After a fire or natural disaster where you are not at fault, the operator must consult with you as to whether it is practicable to repair or replace the unit. There are a number of outcomes that could be considered, such as:

  • Repairing or replacing the unit
  • Transferring to another unit within the same village
  • Transferring to another unit in a sister village (owned by the same operator, if applicable)
  • Terminating the occupation right agreement and leaving the village

The Operator has to consider your comments or advice during consultation but is not obliged to agree with your comments or take your advice. Once consultation is complete, the operator must set out the terms of its decision in writing and provide you with a copy.

Repairing or replacing the unit

If the operator decides to repair or replace the unit, repairs or construction should commence as soon as practicable.

Transfers

If repairing or replacing the unit is not a viable option, you may have the option to transfer to another unit within the same village or a sister village nearby.

Terminating the occupation right agreement

There are two scenarios for terminating the occupation right agreement.

  1. If a transfer is available but you do not accept it the occupation right agreement is deemed to have been terminated by you. The original terms outlined in the occupation right agreement will apply, including any fixed deduction.
  2. If a transfer is not available, your exit payment must be at least equal to the capital sum you paid at the start less any charges you owe to the operator (but not including any fixed deduction e.g. Deferred Management Fee, Village Contribution, Amenities Fee). Your occupation right agreement might provide for a higher repayment, in which case repayment must be in accordance with your occupation right agreement.

Charges after a fire or natural disaster

If a fire, natural disaster or other event which was not your fault means that your home is uninhabitable then the fixed deduction must stop accruing or amortising from the date of that event. The regular fees that you pay for village outgoings or personal services must also stop on that date. If the operator provides you with temporary accommodation then accrual of the fixed deduction can be restarted and you will be responsible for the cost of any outgoings or personal services related to that temporary accommodation.

If the operator is not providing you with temporary accommodation then the charges under your occupation right agreement will only resume when your home is ready for occupation by you.

Fire protection and emergency management

The Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 includes clear rules for operators in regards to fire protection and emergency management (clauses 19 to 23).

For example, all villages must have adequate insurance, a fire protection and emergency management policy (in writing), and evacuation and emergency response procedures.

You can ask the village operator for a copy of the fire protection and emergency management policy. The operator must provide an easily readable version to both current and intending residents on request.

Read the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 here.

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