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Welcome To The Stage! MHOA Victoria!

Manufactured Home Owners Association (Vic) Inc, (MHOA Victoria), a not-for-profit organization, was formed in 2022 with the objective to promote, advance, maintain and safeguard the combined and individual interests of manufactured home owners throughout Victoria.

This encompasses all residents who own their own home yet pay site rent under a Land-Lease agreement. In other words, you own your home but pay your landlord site rent for the land on which it stands. These are often referred to as relocatable homes.

MHOA Victoria is advocating to the Victorian State Government for changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, Part 4A for better protections for those who have chosen to live in a Manufactured Home Village, the majority of whom are aged pensioners on fixed incomes.

MHOA Victoria’s immediate priority is to advocate for amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, Part 4A. In its current form the Act offers very limited protection for home owners. Below is a list of our demands to the Victorian Government on behalf of all home owners in Manufactured Home Villages.

  • Standalone Legislation for Manufactured Home Villages
  • All Manufactured Home Villages to be registered with government
  • Removal of CPI as a site rent modifier
  • Abolish exit fees (Deferred Management Fees)
  • More transparency between home owners and village owners/managers
  • Standardised Lease/Site Agreements
  • Ceiling/Cap on annual site rent fees
  • Removal of the Market Rent Review as a site rent modifier
  • Mandatory training for village owners/managers
  • Dedicated Ombudsman for dispute resolution with binding powers

MHOA have also created a database and map of all villages in Victoria; if you click on the image below it will take you to the webpage.

If you want to get in touch with the group please find their details below.

  • POST: P.O. Box 427, Kilmore, Vic 3764
  • PHONE: 0431 347 797
  • WEBSITE: https://mhoavic.com/
  • EMAIL: info.mhoa.vic@gmail.com

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Update

Older Renters Get Shirty With Risky Businesses

At the end of 2023, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) announced their regulatory priorities for the upcoming year. Due to HAAG and the Manufactured Home Owners Association Victoria (MHOA Vic)’s advocacy and campaigning, residential parks (also known as land lease villages) are listed as one of CAV’s regulatory priorities!

This is very exciting as residential parks are often left out or ignored in discussions about the Residential Tenancies Act and the Retirement Villages Act. This means that there are less protections for people living in this type of housing.

CAV has acknowledged that more attention needs to be paid to the growing residential park/lend lease village industry given that these housing types and their contracts have the potential to cause financial harm, and health and safety risks for older and vulnerable residents.

The CAV webpage on this states:

Residential parks presenting new risks to consumers that need closer monitoring

Why

Residential parks are another growing accommodation sector. Such parks often attract older renters who may be financially vulnerable and seeking an alternative to a retirement village. Our previous work has identified a range of potential industry wide issues that may adversely affect residents’ health and safety, as well as presenting potential financial harm and detriment to renters. Central to these concerns is the use of unfair or prohibited contract terms in site agreements by some industry participants and a lack of transparency around fees and charges and rights or obligations on ending an agreement.

What

We will conduct further research to better understand these issues, engage with industry leaders to encourage better service delivery and intervene where appropriate. We will also assist older, financially disadvantaged residents living in retirement housing through the state-wide Retirement Housing Assistance and Advocacy Program (RHAAP) to help individual residents get the advice and support they need. We will take enforcement action against systemic or egregious non-compliance by park operators.

Get in touch with HAAG if you want to know more, or get involved!

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Update

The Reinstatement Rip Off!

We have another article from a Retirement Village resident about the grey area that is ‘reinstatement costs’ in Retirement Village contracts! Read, download and share!

If you or someone you know is living in a Retirement Village and having concerns with your contract, fees, management or resolving issues, remember you can get in touch with HAAG’s Retirement Housing Advice Team for more information and support!

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Paying Dearly for a Sense of Community

We have a bonus post this month! A resident of retirement housing in Victoria got in touch with us to share an article they wrote discussing different retirement housing options available and what it means to find your ‘forever home’ in this type of housing.

Great horned owl and chicks. Photo © Scott Copeland

You can download the article below:

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Update

Alright, Senator Pocock, I’m ready for my close up!

This month RAAG discussed HAAG’s upcoming delegation to Canberra and a few RAAG members recorded interview clips to be made into a short video to share with MPs to help them understand the lived experience of housing stress and homelessness for older people.

Members answered four questions:

  • What is one thing you want MPs to understand about the current housing crisis?
  • What kind of housing would actually be suitable for you (socially, financially, physically, accessibility, community, location)?
  • Why is it important for MPs to hear people’s lived experiences?
  • What does home mean to you?

If you want to share your answers to these questions with your local MP, you can find their name and how they vote on different topics here: theyvoteforyou.org.au/

In the video below you can see Sen. David Pocock introducing the delegation in Canberra for Homelessness Week, and if you click HERE, you can have a look at HAAG’s report launch called Ageing In A Housing Crisis.

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Update

Housing for older people is a right not a privilege!

This month RAAG members discussed the Inquiry into the rental and housing affordability crisis in Victoria, and their thoughts on what needs to be considered for older people to ensure they have access to safe, affordable, secure, accessible long term housing.

The group all have different opinions, experiences, perspectives, priorities and solutions, but even so they found common ground on many factors.

The group agreed that housing needed to be built in appropriate and accessible areas that older people want to live in.

They do need to have a lot of the housing for older people in appropriate areas … I want to live near people with a similar way of life and life stage.

RAAG Member

Appropriate location is vital, for instance older people, they want to be near their families … medical centers, services, transport; it’s a town planning issue too.

RAAG Member
Source: https://www.abc.net.au/abckids/programs/play-school/extension-ideas/how-many/11617678

Members discussed using census data to work out where there were higher numbers of older people in housing stress and building houses there, as well as making sure the housing was close to places, people and services vital to living happily and well!

You have the stats and you have the projections for older people and the ageing population and housing. You know older people need housing. So do something!

RAAG Member
You can see here in this image from the Victorian government’s Ageing Well Action Plan that they are aware of the population of older people in Victoria. You can see the full link HERE!

Members also raised concerns about where the money the government earmarks for housing is actually going. Members relayed feeling frustrated when millions of dollars of money for houses are mentioned, and then the money seems to vanish and the houses still aren’t being built.

The housing money provided is an appeasement but is vanishes and there is no houses. Where is the material coming from, where are human resources, where are the builders? They aren’t available so how will the houses get built.

RAAG Member

Accessibility was also discussed in relation to making sure houses that were built were fully accessible for all older people, especially those with disabilities. The group all agreed that it is important for people to be able to age in their homes without having to get major modifications as their needs change.

“We need the government to say: this is your house until you go.”

RAAG Member

The group also see the investment in housing as an investment in future older people and the positive legacy that campaigning for housing justice now will have for future generations.

Baby boomers, we need this now, but the housing will be good for the next generations too if you invest and design it properly.

RAAG Member

There were many more ideas thrown around about the housing crisis, rent increases, housing investors, pension rates, rent caps and much more!

If you would like to have your say, or keep on top of the progress of this inquiry, you can find more HERE!

If you need support to write in, or to understand more about campaigning, you can find more HERE on HAAG’s website!

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Update

A cracking code Gromit….unless?

In May the RAAG group discussed the recently established Retirement Living Code of Conduct which came into effect on January 1st, 2020. It is a voluntary Code of Conduct that retirement housing providers can sign up to to ensure they “maintain high standards across best business operations and community experiences“.

The Code of Conduct is a initiative of the Property Council of Australia (PCA), which is a nationwide body which advocates for and represents the leaders of the property industry. The PCA has a Retirement Living division which represents national retirement village and senior living community operators.

The Code also involves a independent review Panel who oversee, monitor and review the Code, and deal with matters referred to it by residents and operators. The Panel is made up of an independent chair, as well as operator and resident representatives to ensure an unbiased review process. Additionally, all Panel members have dispute resolution experience.

Members discussed the pros and cons of such an initiative; some members thought it was helpful and showed the industry’s commitment to a high standard and to the needs and voices of residents, especially given that the panel included the residents perspective.

Other members were wary of a voluntary and self-managed governing body which represents operators in the industry; they were curious how residents can be certain that the industry will hold itself accountable and remain unbiased?

Additionally, members raised the potential financial impact on resident when a retirement village signs up to the code (click here to see the sign up form). The village has to pay for accreditation, and the cost can vary for each provider depending if you are a member of the PCA or LASA, if you are a new subscriber, and how many units you have in your village.

Depending what this amount it, there is potential that this cost will be absorbed by the maintenance charges without any tangible benefit to the residents paying them. This might be worth it in some cases to ensure high standards in housing and lifestyle, but there is equally a chance that villages could promote their certification of compliance and there would be no tangible difference to the housing, financial, and wellbeing indicators for the residents.

Members were all pleased to know the Code is releasing regular annual reports, which will show how many issues have gone through the Panel and the outcomes. So far due to how new the Code and Panel are, there are minimal examples of this, but RAAG members look forward to seeing how successful this is and what can be applied to other retirement housing types, or recommended to government for policy change.

Let us know what you think!

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Update

We need a managers manager to manage the managers!

This month the group was discussing the 4 key asks from the Retirement Housing Matters Campaign, with a focus on the need for manager training and accreditation and how this could practically be implemented, regulated and enforced.

The group brainstormed different ideas such as a Cert IV in Retirement Housing management that would require people to be tested on and pass a trade standard.

The group thought the course could include training on: legislation such as the Retirement Villages Act and Residential Tenancies Act, skills in selling property and explaining contracts, having a community services skill set and a person centered point of view, mediation training, first aid training, and gerontological training.

Though this sounds helpful, members also troubleshooted some potential flaws in that system. Who would authorise it, and who would be required to do the training? The CEO? The caretakers? The middle management? Who would regulate it and enforce if people were untrained?

Members thought that a lot of the issues arise from the personality type of specific staff members. The village rules can be consistent, but a change in management can really change how they get implemented, and as one member said, “you can’t train someone to be a nice person“.

What do you think?

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Update

Gender Equality in Retirement Housing

This month RAAG members discussed the recently released National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality Discussion Paper to talk about how gender inequality has impacted people, especially older women living in different forms of retirement housing.

The members that attended this meeting were all women, and discussed the inequality they experienced in their personal and professional lives and how that has impacted their housing and financial situations as they have aged.

Discussion revolved around superannuation, career glass ceilings, pay differences, lack of childcare, perceptions of men and women in society and how care and caring roles in the home and at work are not acknowledged or valued.

Members relayed stories of never being promoted but repeatedly having to train new male managers in the job they could do better, of being told “you don’t need superannuation because you have a husband to look after you“, and of quitting a job and finding out a man had been hired immediately after at a higher rate.

The group all agreed this is something they do not want another generation of women to go through, but also wanted to highlight the fact that older women who have lived through superannuation not existing, or not being permitted to them in their working lives need to not be forgotten in future policy changes. True gender equality cannot be ageist.

“The saying was, one for mum one for dad and one for the country – and now those women are suffering the consequences in their retirement.”

– RAAG Member

If you want to read or download the summary, it is attached as a PDF below. Consultation is open unitl April 19th! You can have your say HERE.

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Consistently Inconsistent

This month RAAG members met and discussed the differences in legislation between the states and territories across Australia when it comes to retirement housing options. Many people do not realise such legislation is not national, and even if they do, they may not realise that people’s rights and responsibilities offered to retirement housing residents can be quite different state to state/territory.

RAAG members discussed that this can also cause confusion when contracts designed in one state are applied in another when a retirement housing operator opens up an interstate location.

Members discussed that having a national legislation or regulatory body would remove some of these issues.

🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

The idea of a national approach to retirement villages and the retirement housing sector is not a new thought – the consistency provides security and reassurance for retirement housing residents and clear accountability and responsibilities for retirement housing owners and operators. An article shared in the RAAG meeting this month is uploaded below:

If you want to see more articles about retirement housing, or older people and housing you can have a look at HAAG’s ‘Ageing on the Edge Research Library‘ and search for topics that interest you. If you have articles you want to contribute you can also do this too!