Residents have the right to establish a residents committee. All residents under village contracts are entitled to stand for election to the residents committee, if the village has one.
Having a residents committee is not compulsory. For instance, a small population of residents in a village may not want a formal committee. Another example is where a strata or community scheme village has an executive committee and residents choose not to also have a residents committee.
What is a residents committee?
A residents committee is a group of residents, elected by their fellow residents, to represent their interests and carry out certain functions. Residents committees provide a means for the residents and the operator to communicate.
Only one residents committee may be established in a retirement village. However, residents may establish other committees for other purposes, such as a social club. Any such committee is not a formal residents committee and cannot carry out the functions of a residents committee that are set out in the Retirement Villages Act.
Forming a residents committee
A residents committee may be established with the consent of the residents of the retirement village. For residents to consent:
- a general meeting to which all residents are invited needs to be held, and
- more than 50% of the residents who vote (in person or by proxy or postal vote) must give consent.
Residents should then discuss and agree on how many members the committee should have and how often it should meet. Nominations for members should be called and an election held. All of these steps can be taken at the same meeting, or at a later meeting.
Any resident can stand for election to a residents committee. However, non-residents cannot be members. This includes such as friends and family of residents, the operator, employees or agents of the operator, residents of nursing homes, Commonwealth subsidised hostels and nursing homes, residential tenants or residents from another village. There is no restriction on the number of committee members.
Unless otherwise invited, only committee members should attend a residents committee meeting.
The residents committee is free to decide its procedures for its own meetings.
However, there are procedures set out in the retirement village laws relating to general residents’ meetings and consent of residents. Residents committee members need to be familiar with these.
A residents committee does not need to have a formal constitution or written rules, but these may help. Fair Trading has developed a set of model rules (Word size: 816kb) that residents committees can use if they wish. The model rules can be used as they are or changed to suit the committee’s needs.
A residents committee can form sub-committees and decide their procedures.
There is no requirement to appoint office holders. However, it is a good idea to choose a member to keep records and to have another member to chair meetings. Many villages choose to appoint residents to act as chairperson, secretary or treasurer.
If office holders are appointed, a person can hold the same office for more than 3 years where there are no other people standing for election or residents agree by special resolution. However, an office holder can be appointed to a different function. For example, after 3 years the secretary could be nominated for another role, such as chairperson.
Functions and rights
Residents committees have a wide range of functions and rights such as:
- calling meetings of residents to vote on matters requiring residents’ consent or to discuss the management and operation of the village
- reporting residents’ decisions to the operator regarding matters that need residents’ consent
- applying to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the 'Tribunal') on behalf of some or all residents
- requesting information from the operator about proposed changes to recurrent charges
- receiving certain financial accounts from the operator
- forming sub-committees
- proposing changes to the village rules or the village services and facilities
- acting as a contact point for prospective residents
- meeting with the operator
- receiving a copy of the annual safety inspection report from the operator
- putting forward a proposal for a surplus in the annual accounts or excess money in the capital works fund to be distributed to residents.
Residents committees are not decision-making bodies. They cannot make decisions on behalf of residents on matters that require residents’ consent.
The operator must provide reasonable administrative assistance requested by the committee, if an estimate of the cost of providing the assistance has been included in the approved annual budget. This may include such things as photocopying or distributing notices.
The operator must not obstruct a committee from exercising its functions (for example, by not allowing meetings to be held in a common room within the village).
The operator must meet with the residents committee, or a representative of the committee, on reasonable request. The operator can also request a meeting with the committee.