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Elderly burdened by village upgrade costs

Wairarapa Village Residents Association thinks refurbishing retirement homes should not be the responsibility of residents. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

A submission by the Wairarapa Village Residents Association to the Social Services and Community Select Committee argues that the replacement of furnishings in village homes should not be a burden borne by residents.

The association said under the Occupational Rights Agreement signed between residents and their village operator, there was a clause making the maintenance of the villa including the replacement of chattels or furnishings supplied by the operator the responsibility of the resident.

It said that few residents would anticipate their occupation of the villa would extend beyond the functional or aesthetically acceptable life of the appliance or furnishing when signing the agreement.

It said appliances such as stovetops, dishwashers, garage door openers, heat pumps, and washing machines were all items included in the agreement.

Law firm Smith and Partners said an Occupational Rights Agreement meant residents would not own the property they lived in, they would instead receive a contractual right to occupy the unit.

“Unlike normal property ownership, you are not usually able to register a mortgage or a caveat against the certificate of title and your name will not appear on it.”

The firm said unlike a normal property purchase, the resident was not entitled to any capital gain from the resale of the property after termination of the agreement.

It said the resident could be liable for any capital loss.

The association said that appliances were often costly, and their inclusion would influence the resident’s decision to purchase or rent a unit.

“The replacement of any of the above is essential to the well-being health and comfort of the occupier and it seems anomalous that the operator should have the authority to avoid responsibility under the maintenance clause in the Occupational Rights Agreement.”

It wanted the select committee to consider the household items when the Occupational Rights Agreement was considered by the committee.

The association said other items in the agreement included flooring, curtains, and painted surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms.

“In general terms paintwork in bathrooms and kitchens cannot be expected to remain presentable for more than eight to 10 years.”

It said that lifespan was “probably beyond the average tenure of residents”, but when it wasn’t, it should be the responsibility of the village operator to re-furbish.

The association said floorcoverings and curtains had a finite life and their deterioration accelerated with time.

“Generally, operators are concerned with both colour and design and hopefully quality.”

It said flooring was ageing to the point of breaking up and becoming a danger to residents.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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