Retirement village noose tightens

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.

Related articles:
Villagers slam retirement group
Minister responds to Aveo scandal
ACCC to investigate Aveo

Written by Olga Galacho

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