The operator of a retirement village must have a written dispute resolution policy, which must comply with any requirements prescribed by the Retirement Villages Regulations 2017 (SA) [Retirement Villages Act 2016 (SA) s 45 and reg 18].
A copy of the policy must be provided to residents within 5 business days of request.
If, after reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute by following the dispute resolution policy, the dispute continues, a party to the dispute may apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for resolution of the matters in dispute [s 46].
Legal advice should be sought before making an application to SACAT.
An application must not be made to SACAT concerning an act or omission that occurred more than 4 years beforehand, except with the permission of SACAT [s 46(2)(b)]. In these cases, permission should be sought in the first instance.
SACAT can make a range of orders, including orders [s 46(3)]:
to restrain a breach of the contract or the Act
to require action in the performance of the contract or compliance with the Act
to pay compensation for loss or injury, other than personal injury, caused by a breach of the contract or the Act
to require the operator to vary or reverse its decision
to avoid or modify terms or conditions of an agreement between the operator and resident
to require the operator to repay to the resident any amount paid by the resident, and
to determine the amount payable as an exit entitlement
A dispute as to an exit entitlement may alternatively be brought before a court with jurisdiction to hear and determine a claim founded on contract for the amount in dispute [s 46(9)]. Depending on the amount sought, this would likely be the Magistrates Court or District Court.
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