Retirement village residents consider class action against managers

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Law firm Levitt Robinson believes the noose is tightening around the necks of retirement village managers taking advantage of elderly residents.

Principal of the firm Stewart Levitt, who addressed a group at Melbourne Town Hall yesterday, told YourLifeChoices that he intended to “put a blowtorch to the belly of a sector imposing unconscionable conditions on retirees”.

“We are seeking compensation for those whose loss has crystallised because of draconian conditions imposed by virtue of management and service agreements,” said Mr Levitt.

The town hall meeting was a call to action for aggrieved residents of Aveo retirement villages keen to participate in a class action against the company, whose key investor is Malaysian businessman Lee Seng Huang.

Aveo has come under fire for inscrutable practices and taking advantage of elderly residents. The ACCC is also investigating allegations of misleading conduct, unfair contract terms and unconscionable conduct.

“They have a business model that needs to be reformed,” said Mr Levitt.

Asked if other major developers of retirement villages may also have imposed unfair contracts on residents, he said: “Aveo haven’t been alone in pushing the envelope in this regard.”

Mr Levitt confirmed that his firm was “well advanced in being able to launch a class action against Aveo”.

“People thought they were buying an orange but they are now complaining they have ended up with a cumquat.

“Essentially, Aveo has positioned itself to have unconscionable control over people’s properties and estates,” he said.

Mr Levitt said Aveo was using a common ploy of corporate companies to nurture a “curry club” of a few compliant stakeholders to support management’s agenda against the rights and wishes of the majority of village residents.

“There is alleged to be a common strategy to confer patronage on residents at some villages as an artifice to procure support for management – something which Aveo has been accused of doing by some of our clients,” he said.

“It is a divide and conquer ploy which has been used throughout the ages,” he said, adding that recent press advertisements promoting “high satisfaction” among Aveo residents likely reflected the views of those who were compliant with the company’s management.

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Written by Olga Galacho

40 Comments

Total Comments: 40
  1. 0
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    Should look at the parent company, MULPHA….will find lots of bad things

  2. 0
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    Who’ Olga?
    Good luck with winning a classa action against a company owned by a billionaire who has deeper pockets than any law firm in the country and can keep a case going forever.
    I’ll be surprised if this is other than sabre rattling and goes anywhere other than focusing public attention on a bad industry which has been doing this for many decades. Not as though abusing their elderly patrons in ‘new’.
    At wort the Malaysia billionaire who owns these cesspits called retirement villages may transfer the assets to a new company and sink the ship, complete with court rulings and judgements.
    What is needed is LEGISLATION, not talk. But when you are in government and getting POLITICAL DONATIONS don’t expect the well being of elderly to matter one iota. The bastards will let the storm die and then it will likely be business as usual.

    • 0
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      Let’s hope for both, Mick. A change in legislation and winning a law suit.
      Once again, foreign businesses are seeing a gentle Australia as a soft target. It’s a shame we are going to have to toughen up but they have hit the gas market, the electricity commission,the rail system and private health insurance and it won’t be too long before parliament is going to have recognise the need to protect Australian industry.

    • 0
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      I don’t know whether I need a holiday or if your latest holiday has changed you MICK but I find we are in agreement on a lot of things. Whilst legislation to protect people, many of whom are vulnerable, there will always be shonks to exploit people. If the politicians ever get around to enacting legislation, let’s hope that there will be clauses allowing for inspections without notice with access to all areas and heavy penalties for breaching the Act.

    • 0
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      I suspect, OM, that you and Mick have always been on the same page.

      As a grunt you should know the difference between legislation and actual performance…

      As for my good self – add in connections with the security services – from which you never get out with a whole skin and will be discredited (which is why I will not stand for public election) – and you will see why we are all – all good and decent people – on the same page.

      Once you sort through the rhetoric and the implied meanings of what someone says – you will find at the bottom a very basic truth.

      We are all in the same boat, and someone else is poking holes in the hull….

  3. 0
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    Why does it take such an action instigated probably by a law firm which sees the possibility of a quick buck to start a very necessary witch hunt ? Where are the Legislators and their inspectorial staff who should be examining all such contracts for fairness and legality before they can be used.
    Each State has their Crown Solicitor or Attorneys General and it should be Law that each pro forma contract must be scrutinised and approved prior to use. This should also apply to those contracts previously signed. Such Legislation should be included in any licence to operate a facility either retirement village or nursing home. This should apply to all facilities including those operated by State – Church – NGO or Private providers. A profit can be made by operating within the limits and without the rip off activity.

    • 0
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      Agree with you entirely, Dougie.

      Only worse are the money grubbing lawyers who run these class actions and their completely amoral litigation funding mates.

      Class actions should be illegal.

    • 0
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      ‘legislators’ have no balls/guts and only listen to the latest donor or lobby group that gets in their ear.

      That is why we need to get rid of the lot, outlaw their ideologically based approach to governance of MY nation, and install guards over the guards to ensure that the guards guard YOU properly…

      (as elsewhere – I have no ideology other than duty first and the preservation of the realm against all enemies, foreign or domestic. Now – if only we could see who is the enemy in this proliferation of Fifth Columns… I know.. I know… a contradiction in terms – there can be only ONE Fifth Column… but at this time we have many claimants to the title)…

    • 0
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      Sadly, because it is the only way an individual can be financially recompensed. If they win then legislation will easily follow and if it doesn’t succeed it will be bought to light and hopefully things will change – even if it’s just to make people aware of what is going on out there.

  4. 0
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    The last commentary aired on television about this saga was from the mouth of a politician who said that they were still looking at review on all this that had been undertaken a few years back, I cant remember when the last review had taken place, which was after the first review.
    I reckon I heard him say they were looking into the matter.
    Once again it shows just what the politicians think of the public, as I notice there isn’t too many reviews happening when they want a pay rise.

  5. 0
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    The last commentary aired on television about this saga was from the mouth of a politician who said that they were still looking at review on all this that had been undertaken a few years back, I cant remember when the last review had taken place, which was after the first review.
    I reckon I heard him say they were looking into the matter.
    Once again it shows just what the politicians think of the public, as I notice there isn’t too many reviews happening when they want a pay rise.

  6. 0
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    All sorts of people take advantage of retirees. I went to look at a village and the sales manager was gentle sweet and kind, told me she could arrange everything from the sale of my home down to the packing and clearing up, and unpacking in my new home.

    She would see to it that I had a lovely estate agent to work with etc. I was only 5 minutes away from the place and driving when a voracious estate agent phoned to make an appointment within hours.

    He came and like an undertaker was oh so gentle and gracious and sweet and helpful. He started by asking how much I needed to get. Things changed very rapidly when I told him I wasn’t a fool and wanted the best price I could get. My feeling was that he would have given me enough to buy the retirement place and a wee bit extra, having bought the property himself and then sell it for a profit to be shared with the sales manager in the retirement village.

    • 0
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      I sold a house many years ago myself. Then I organised a solicitor and told the purchasers to organise their own solicitor.
      I would do that again.
      We have a relative who has come out of a retirement village because they hated it and built a new home for themselves instead.
      I worked in a legal office before I was married and know it is not that scary to do. Organise your conveyancing solicitor beforehand and don’t share with the buyer. They must have their own legal rep.
      You are wise and people need to be like you and not be taken for old fools.

    • 0
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      Maggie, it is illegal for a real estate agent to buy your property for his own benefit(other than commission).
      But I am glad you weren’t conned by the soft talk. Horrible isn’t it.
      I have heard that in Canada the buyer and seller need different real estate agents and they share the commission. After observing what is going on in this seller’s market I think it would be a great idea to introduce here as it is most certainly buyer beware.

    • 0
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      I agree GrandmaKathleen22, it’s all well and good to use the one solicitor for vendor and purchaser to save money but if anything goes wrong, which side does the solicitor take. I have found that the best real estate agent is the one recommended by friends, not the one with the best spiel.

  7. 0
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    Class actions, even against the giants, don’t always fail. Look at the tobacco companies. I hope the women suing the company which has ruined their lives with those horrible breast implants and Johnson and Johnson for those dreadful vaginal prolapse mesh implants all win their cases.

    • 0
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      Agree! I would not hesitate to do that with solid research and planning.
      Law is not that scary and all solicitors are not scammers.
      No group is all good or all bad.

    • 0
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      I think the problem re lawyers, Grandma, is that they are bound to Law, and are not necessarily even persuaded that Law as written often needs to be changed, or at the very least, its administration needs to be changed, so that it becomes the true servant of the people as sovereign rather than their master in the hands of vile opportunists and despotic minded petty tyrants.

      It is my personal view that lawyers need to be more pro-active in pursuit of Right rather than the often self-serving dictates of Law as written.

      Let Right Be Done – is the appropriate motto.

    • 0
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      TREBOR, if by right you mean just, it must be noted that we do not have a justice system, we have a legal system. Although a lawyer may argue the case with the view that his/her client is morally right, the magistrate or judge has no other option than to apply the rule of law. In such a case the lawyer would have not done the right thing by their client and would be disbarred for negligence.
      I think it is time that we charge any current government with the task of continuously reviewing our legislation and ensuring that it is allowing for “Right to be done” as you suggest.
      Too much of their time is wasted on petty politics such as trying to blame uncontrollable or irrelevant events on either the incumbent government or the previous holders of that station. The way they are all behaving reminds me of my days in a Primary School Playground.

    • 0
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      THAT is clearly why our judicial system needs to be changed to suit the 20th Century – then we can move forward into the 21st.

      Is it the Rule Of Law that dictates that a judge/magistrate MUST find in accordance with the perception or interpretation of what a specific law means? In many case, many such ‘laws’ should have been struck down at the first post (not the last post for anyone dragged up under them) – and the judiciary need to become aware of what their true position is – not just a mouth-piece for legislation and the way it can be distorted in the hands of those with ‘power’ – but in accordance with the Rule of Law that says that a law may only apply when Right is done. If it does not – then it is not properly a Law and cannot be enforced.

      The rule of Law is based on the principle of doing right… it is not bound by abuse of language or or reality…… such things lead judiciary to the scaffold following popular revolts….

  8. 0
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    Hi Mick: the Malaysian businessman owns less than 25 per cent of Aveo, so he isn’t in a position, as far as I know so far, to transfer the assets anywhere. As a stock exchange listed company, Aveo has many owners. But I agree with you, legislation to protect elderly consumers from unfair, asset-stripping contracts is long overdue.

    • 0
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      25% ownership is the theory anyway – in The third world – of which we are rapidly becoming part – 25% means 99% by proxies etc…

      Get in tune with Third World Ruling Oligarchy Despotism Banana Republic economics, please… beezines eez good in El Granda Republica Da San Austrador…. compadre.. ven bedder!! ….. beeziness ez BOOMING!!!

    • 0
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      I agree with TREBOR’s comment that 25% ownership + proxies, etc (and possibly collusion with other large shareholders) can rule the show.
      Also, agree with the comments of “floss” below that this is treason by our politicians – to allow the care of our Aged to be an Investment for a foreigner in a sector where suitably strong Legislation is lacking.

      Can’t understand why a Royal Commission hasn’t been proposed by anyone given our aged are being horribly treated in this sector?

  9. 0
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    What are our over paid Public Servants doing they are paid to keep a eye on these things.Our Federal Government will make a lot of noise for a day or so then it will be business as normal for these overseas companies.The Liberal party are just plain lazy a do nothing party they let these foreign owned companies rip the guts out of this country. What they have done to this country is almost treason.

    • 0
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      They are watching over their retirement funding and their perks….. be kind .. that’s enough work to do for anyone………….

      A Fifth Column to be sure…..

  10. 0
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    I dearly hope that the lawyer is not just piss and wind and that the class action against these unscrupulous owners comes to fruition. However legislation is sorely needed to bring this industry into line but what Is the chance of that happening with the pensioner bashing LNP government now in power. Bugger all I’d say.

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