With every village having its own complex mixture of individuals, and each person with their own opinions, ideas and beliefs, it’s not surprising that disputes arise.
Disputes can be placed into three categories:
- Disputes with other residents in the village.
- Disputes involving the village manager, village staff and/or the scheme operator.
- Disputes with the Residents Committee and/or the Body Corporate (this body is found only in freehold villages).
Disputes with other residents in the village
In retirement villages there can be disagreements and disputes between residents as in any community. The RV Act does not contain provisions for the resolution of disputes of this nature.
However, the articles “Tips for managing conflict” and “Resolving the conflict”, may be of use and can be found on the Department of Justice and Attorney-General’s website page.
Some suggestions would be to:
- Choose an appropriate time.
- Discuss the issue.
- Give the other person a chance to explain.
- Listen to the other person.
- Work together to find a solution.
- Meet again in the future.
- Seek mediation help if necessary.
NOTE: The ARQRV does not intervene in disputes between residents in a retirement village.
Disputes involving the village manager, village staff and/or the scheme operator
Notice must be taken of the definition of retirement village dispute under s 21 of the RV Act.
“A retirement village dispute is a dispute between a scheme operator and a resident of a retirement village about the parties’ rights and obligations under the resident’s residence contract or this Act.
………a retirement village dispute includes a dispute about compliance by a scheme operator or a resident with this Act, whether or not a particular failure to comply is an offence against this Act.”
Under s 45(1)(m) of the RV Act a residence contract must contain provisions about dispute resolution under the RV Act. It may also have additional provisions regarding dispute resolution which are not under the RV Act. It should be noted however, that the provisions in a residence contract do not limit a person’s rights to deal with disputes as stated under Part 9 ‘Dispute Resolution’ of the RV Act (s 153 of the RV Act).
Where a dispute has not been resolved in an informal manner and the party wishes to pursue the matter, the provisions of Part 9 of the RV Act should be relied upon.
The resolution process where a dispute is not resolved is one where it escalates from:
Preliminary negotiation – each party exchanging letters and meeting in the retirement village to attempt to resolve the dispute,
Mediation– a party to the dispute may formally apply to have the dispute referred to mediation to attempt to reach an agreement with the other party
Application to tribunal (QCAT) for an order – a party may apply to the tribunal for an order to resolve the dispute
If you are a member of ARQRV, ask ARQRV to guide you through the process. This is a service that ARQRV provides to members.
- The resident must write a letter outlining the matter in dispute.
- The letter must nominate a day “no earlier than 14 days after the notice is given for the parties to meet within the village to attempt to resolve the dispute”.
- “The second party must give the first party a written response to the notice within 7 days after receiving the notice”.
Where preliminary negotiation does not resolve the dispute a party to the dispute may apply to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a mediation meeting. QCAT is an independent, accessible tribunal that efficiently and inexpensively resolves disputes on a range of matters and make decisions.
Application to tribunal (QCAT) for an order
Seeking a decision by QCAT may be an appropriate recourse of action where there is a disagreement about a residence contract between a resident and retirement village operator when other avenues, including mediation or intervention by ARQRV has been unsuccessful.
QCAT provides information on their website about a three-step process to help resolve retirement village disputes.
Issues include budgets, by-laws, maintenance, pets, management complaints, use of village facilities, use and enjoyment of village, refurbishment of communal areas, quality of services, contractual issues, and condition of village grounds which can lead to disputes.
Disputes with the residents committee and/or the body corporate in a freehold village
Disputes with the residents committee may involve the village manager and/or the scheme operator if the committee’s actions breach the RV Act.
In a freehold village, disputes with the body corporate may be settled by an exchange of letters or by attending a body corporate meeting to try to resolve the dispute.
Under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 residents can take their dispute with the body corporate to QCAT for mediation, if the above efforts are unsuccessful.
Problems such as budgets, noise from units, car parking, overhanging trees, construction noise, breaches of by-laws, enforcing by-laws not previously enforced, changes affecting a minority of residents, and the timing when repairs have to be made, source many disputes.
Department of Housing and Public Works information
The DHPW website contains helpful information and also outlines steps to take to help resolve disputes.