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Retirement Village Operators in Victoria – How to conduct your Annual General Meeting in the COVID-19 climate?

Donna Rayner, Rosemary Southgate, Kathryn Elleman, Lee Be
The current Victorian government restrictions set by the Chief Health Officer continue to impact the operation of communities in the Retirement Living sector in Victoria.

Retirement village managers and operators must consider how they are to comply with the Retirement Villages Act 1986 (Vic) (“RV Act”) in the COVID-19 climate, in particular in relation to annual general meetings (“AGMs”).

Pursuant to section 33 of the Retirement Villages Act 1986 (Vic) (“RV Act”), the retirement village manager must convene an AGM of the residents of the retirement village. At that meeting the manager must present financial statements for the financial year ending 3 months prior to the meeting.  So for a 1 July to 30 June financial year, the meeting is to be held in September/October.

Under the current Victorian restrictions, large gatherings are not permitted in an indoor or outdoor setting. This makes convening an AGM difficult. However, the RV Act does not expressly require the AGM to be held in person.  There are alternative methods managers may consider implementing, that do not require physical face to face meetings, to ensure managers do everything they reasonably can to comply with the RV Act.

  • Remote Technology facilities – If your village has the facilities to convene the AGM through teleconference or videoconference (e.g Zoom or Microsoft teams), you should conduct the AGM through this or another remote technology method.  This will comply with the RV Act provided that the required notice of the meeting is given in the usual way.
  • Financial Statements – Financial statements and the budget for the following year must be prepared regardless of how the AGM is convened. In the current circumstances we recommend that the financial statements are circulated to each resident in the village.
    If the residents have any queries in relation to the financial statements, managers can suggest that residents provide their questions in writing for a written or verbal response to be provided by the manager.
    Even if you cannot hold the AGM in person or remotely, you should provide the financial statements and the owner’s statement to all residents, so as to be taking all reasonable steps to comply with the requirements of the RV Act.
  • Maintenance charges – If the maintenance charge for the new financial year will not be increased by more than the CPI, then approval of the increase is not required by the residents.  This means that you do not actually need to seek a vote of the residents in relation to the maintenance charge.
    However, if the maintenance charge for the new financial year will increase by more than the CPI, the manager must obtain approval by a resolution of a majority of the residents or seek a resolution from the residents committee.
    We suggest that operators may wish to seek the resolution from the residents committee to approve the increase in the maintenance charge in the current circumstances as this could be done by resolution not necessarily passed at a meeting. The resolution from the residents committee may be sought by teleconference, or by email. 
  • Other reports – The manager should also circulate to the residents the annual report in relation to complaints and any other usual reports, such as sub committee reports.

With the continued uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic presents, operators and managers need to consider these matters in order to comply to the extent reasonably possible with the RV Act.

We are here to help

If you require any further information please contact Donna Rayner, Rosemary Southgate, Kathryn Elleman or Lee Be.

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