Guidelines If You Have a Complaint

If you have a problem with a village or manager that is not solved to your satisfaction, after having asked to be fixed, by using the “Internal Dispute Resolution Guidelines for Retirement Village Owners and Managers” (or not) then there are two alternatives. (Regardless of the title, this publication is a useful guide for a resident who is dissatisfied, for disputes between residents, as well as between residents and managers and owners.

Your village manager may also have a copy, and should also be able to provide you a copy of “your village dispute resolution procedure” which he/ she is required to have by the last amendment, 2006, to the Retirement Village Act (available from CAV at consumers@justice.vic.gov.au, or phone 1300 558 181, or fax 03 8684 6295, or can be viewed on the CAV website www.consumer.vic.gov.au )

Steps available are:-

1. First get the complaint form [see attachment 4] from CAV, by contacting the above web site or phone or fax numbers. Remember when attempting to resolve any complaint it is critical for you to follow the Conflict Resolution Network CRN Guidelines (refer Attachment 3)

2. Fill it out and mail, fax or attach a signed copy to an email and send to The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), together with your letter of complaint, [see Attachment1], that you may or may not decide to give to your owner/Village Manager and a pro former letter that you may decide to give your Manager [for a sample see attachment 2]. A response currently takes about a month. CAV can give information and advice over the phone but in most circumstances are not able to accept verbal complaints, nor can they offer you legal advice.

Lodging a complaint with CAV cannot get you into trouble with the village manager.

3. Only if the manager fails to respond and fix the problem will it be necessary to phone and ask for CAV to conciliate (this is not normally necessary as the Manager/Owner would prefer to keep CAV at “arms-length”).

4. CAV may refer the matter to the village manager, or owner on your behalf (normally the owner in the case of a building fault). If the owner will agree, CAV may be able to reach a settlement through their conciliation process.

5. There have been some reports from Committee members that some owners will not conciliate in the presence of CAV.

6. Never the less it is very desirable that a formal written complaint be lodged with CAV (make sure you keep a copy of all documents you send for reference), since it is the only means for them to get a good understanding of the nature and extent of more prevalent problems in villages. The weight of the number of complaints from residents may result in CAV amending the act or regulations (as has been the case of the new car complaints and the law change by CAV as the result).

7. If the owner will not agree to conciliation, CAV may be able to assist you with alternative avenues of redress including advocacy assistance to take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Alternatively, you may seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in retirement village matters. However there are very few solicitors who are experts in this area, and most, who do, work representing retirement village owners.

8. You may make an application to VCAT individually. Where the claim is for $10,000 or less, lawyers will not be allowed. If more than $10,000 is in dispute, lawyers are sometimes allowed to represent those involved. Getting embroiled with the legal complexities without the advice of VCAT, CAV or a qualified lawyer can be a frustrating and fruitless expensive experience.

9. Going to VCAT may prevent you from taking the issue to court: legal advice is desirable if you wish to retain the option of litigation.

10. Note also that no one, other than a practicing qualified solicitor is permitted, under Victorian Law, to offer what is considered to be legal advice to anyone. RRVV is not permitted to offer advice, on disputes, though we can tell you the most appropriate steps for you to take or who to contact to assist you, or you may learn them by experience.

ATTACHMENT 1

Name of Retirement Village
Your address
Victoria XXXX
Insert the date here Ph Your phone number

 

The Director
Consumer Affairs Victoria
GPO Box 123A
Melbourne VIC 3001

 

Dear Sir/Ms,

Re: Briefly describe the problem (eg The Retirement Village Company have repeatedly refused to repair my leaking roof or what ever the problem is that you are writing to complain about] )

I am a Resident of Place the name of your Village here Retirement Village …………(describe in detail all discussions with The Company, day, date & what was said & what didn’t happen together with any photo copies of previous correspondence with or from the manager/Company or any photographs; ending with (for eg “I/we consider that the owners of the village should be fully and morally responsible to repair eg my/our leaking roof, or what ever the problem is that you are writing to complain about] )

The purpose of me writing this letter is: (use whichever is the appropriate clause i.e. 1. or 2.)

1. To ask that you place my letter of concern and complaint form on your records and when I speak to the Village manager tomorrow to ask for an answer from the owners, and a satisfactory answer is not forthcoming, I will phone and request that you assist me by conciliation to obtain a resolution to my request in a reasonable time.

OR

2. To ask that you please listen to my complaint and assist me, as soon as is possible, to obtain resolution by help/follow up from Consumer Affairs Victoria intervening with (insert the name and title of the person or the Company name)on my/our behalf.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Yours sincerely

Your name

Encls. Attach your letter of request to The Company/ Manager, the Consumer Affairs Complaints form and any other substantiating documents (ensuring that they are factual, legible and complete)

 ATTACHMENT 2

Place your address here

Eg Heavenly Retirement Village
Villa XX/ XXX Paradise Road
Victoria (post code)

Date Print your Phone number

The Manager,

Address to the Village Holding Company

Place the Village Manager’s address in here

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: I am requesting owners of the Village to (e.g. repair the under floor heating of my unit at Heavenly Retirement Village).

I am a Resident of (Name of Retirement Village) and I consider that the owners of the village should be responsible to/for (Describe the complaint or fault that you have here – eg repairing the floor heating).

I look forward to receiving a positive answer from you that you will meet your obligation or Contractual obligation to me/us as a resident of your retirement village built by you and sold to me in good faith

There are two possible closing paragraphs depending on your circumstances:

1. I have written to the Consumer Affairs (see attached form) and should we not be able to resolve the matter (for eg of the repair of my under floor heating), I will phone Consumer Affairs asking them to conciliate this matter to obtain a reasonable outcome,

OR (depending on which method you elect to use)

2. I have written to the Consumer Affairs Victoria [CAV] and, as we have not been able to resolve the matter of..(Describe the complaint or fault that you have here – eg repairing the floor heating), I have asked them to contact you, on my/our behalf, to get a resolution to my/our unresolved problem.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Yours (or yours in frustration) or sincerely – (depending on how strongly you feel about this matter)

Sign here Ima Disgruntled Resident

Encls: Attach a photo copy of your Residential complaint form to CAV,

(once you have mailed the complaint form and your letter to CAV).