Retirement village disputes

Many disputes can be resolved quickly in the early stages if they are discussed openly.

If you have a dispute, first talk to your operator. Operators have their own internal dispute handling processes.

If that's not an option we can help.

Fill in the complaints form and depending on the issue, our retirement village complaint service will either recommend mediation, provide dispute resolution assistance, or refer you to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

1. Complaint service

You have the option of using the retirement village complaint service.

Our officer will:

  • explain the process and provide impartial advice to all parties
  • allow all parties to put forward their position
  • confirm that all relevant matters have been discussed
  • make suggestions as to the best way to finalise the complaint.

The officer will not offer any legal advice or continue with the complaint unless both parties show willingness to reach an agreement.

If the dispute involves a breach to legislation, we can take disciplinary action which can include financial penalties.

2. Mediation

It's quick, free and onsite.

Our free onsite mediation service is voluntary. It's an informal negotiation with a neutral, qualified mediator to help you reach a beneficial settlement. The mediator's role is to help identify the issues in dispute and help find options that could address everyone's concerns.

If we think mediation is appropriate, we'll contact you and talk you through that process.

Frequently asked questions about mediation

What matters are best suited for mediation?

  • annual budgets and accounts
  • annual meetings including Notices
  • issues with repairs and maintenance that are the operator’s responsibility
  • alterations and additions to an individual’s lot
  • village rules
  • reduction or withdrawal of service or facilities by the operator
  • capital maintenance and replacement

What matters are not suitable for mediation?

Time limits for making an application to the Tribunal may apply.  If the matter is urgent then you should go straight to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Check the information available about time limits on the Tribunal’s website before applying for mediation.

Other matters include:

  • some contractual issues
  • termination and vacant possession
  • payment of money and compensation
  • sale or letting of premises.

Who attends?

  • All relevant people involved in the dispute should attend the session. A solicitor can be present if the other parties approve.
  • The mediator will arrange for an interpreter to attend if required.

Where will the mediation take place?

  • Mediation can take place onsite at the village or at another mutually acceptable location as agreed to by the parties.

How do I prepare?

  • You should be fully prepared for the mediation session.
  • Bring any relevant plans, documents or photographs. This also includes getting your own legal or other advice before the session if you think you need to.

What happens during the mediation?

  • First, each party will have an opportunity to briefly describe the dispute and state what they are hoping to achieve from mediation.
  • Then the mediator will help the parties discuss and explore the issues, identify options and negotiate possible settlements.

What are the results?

  • When an agreement is reached, the mediator can help draft a written agreement.
  • If the issue can't be resolved by mediation, an application can be made to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

What's the cost?

  • We don't charge you anything for mediation services. Everyone is responsible for their own costs (eg. cost of seeking independent legal advice, if you believe this is required).

3. The Tribunal

If the issue can't be resolved by mediation or through the complaint service, you can lodge an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The Tribunal can make enforceable orders to resolve a dispute whereas Fair Trading cannot.

If you have a matter in the Tribunal, you should attend the hearing. If you’re unable to attend in person, you can request a telephone hearing or present your case in written form.

Time limits for making an application to the Tribunal may apply.

The Tribunal will not be able to determine your matter if it involves federal jurisdiction. See the Tribunal's federal jurisdiction fact sheet to learn more.

Resolving disputes for strata and community scheme villages

If you have a problem with the retirement village laws, you can apply directly to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to hear your case. In most cases where the dispute relates to the strata and community scheme, mediation with  NSW Fair Trading needs to be completed before it can be taken to the Tribunal.

Prev Village budgets and accounts