It is not uncommon for retirement housing contracts to exceed 100 pages in length. Lawyers at the Consumer Action Law Centre recently described these contracts as ‘some of the worst [they] had ever seen’. Older Victorians are often going through a traumatic and upsetting time of their lives as they leave their family home to enter a village or other retirement living community. They should not be expected to navigate complex and lengthy legal documents to make significant life decisions.
Basic guidelines should be developed to ensure that contracts are expressed in plain English and meet a certain standard of readability. While the Retirement Villages (Contractual Arrangements) Regulations 2017 (VIC) establish prescribed terms and layouts for management and residence contracts, they have failed to address the length and complexity of contracts. Consumer testing of any standard layouts or terms is essential.