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A West Australian family construction business which moved into retirement villages. It has recently been acquired by Mirvac a large construction company in eastern states. There was an outcry about the contracts residents in retirement homes had signed.
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Mirvac - Fini
Fini was a family construction business which merged with the giant MIRVAC. Mr Fini structured the contracts he offered residents to be profitable for him and then tried to change them without ensuring that all those involved understood and agreed. There were multiple issues and to their credit two octogenarians were the ones who spent their final years dragging this company through the courts. Most worrying was the attempt by the Western Australian government to pass laws to legitimise the companys actions.
Mr Fini was an Italian who emigrated to Australia in 1951 and started building his own house. He then built other houses and progressed to running his own company in Western Australia. He had some hard times but prospered.
Speaking at a WA Business News Success and Leadership Series breakfast last week Mr Fini often used the word persistence to explain how and why he has succeeded in the many endeavours he has pursued.
Nov 2004 The Fini story
Leaving Italy in 1951 in his early twenties Mr Fini initially hated life in Australia but he was not about to pack up and go home. Instead, he set about building his own home in Perth.
"It was a risk but when you are young youve got nothing to lose. By 1958 I was building 15 to 20 houses a year and I was doing very well," he said.
During the credit squeeze of the 1960s Mr Fini thought of throwing in the towel but the words of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, spurred him on.
As Perths appetite for housing grew Mr Fini began boosting production to meet demand. He hired managers and foremen to help produce the 200 houses a year his business was now developing.
"I did a trip around the world and I went to California and there was a retirement village and I said, this would be alright for Perth.
"We had some land and I said we should do a retirement village.
Fini unveils his vision to reality WA Business News November 18, 2004
Established in 1956 the Fini Group is now one of Western Australia's premier property developers and builders. Having housed over 7,000 people in that time Fini have forged an enviable reputation in a very strong market segment.
Feb 2001 A Premier developer
Mirvac & Fini to Merge in WA. Australian Stock Exchange Company Announcements February 13, 2001
In 2001 The Fini family sold its company into the larger interstate development company Mirvac founded by son Adrians friend Bob Hamilton and Henry Pollack. Mirvac had also become interested in aged care developments. It did not have a foothold in Western Australia. Finis son stayed on as manager of the Western Australian and Retirement sections of the merged business.
Henry Pollack co-founded the property-development and hotel-management group Mirvac in 1973 with former real estate agent Robert Hamilton. In addition to his position as executive chairman, Pollack continues to be the biggest shareholder, with about 36% of the company, and has the right of first refusal to buy out Hamilton's 12% interest.
May 1995 Henry Pollack and Mirvac
Pollack was instrumental in the design of the proposed $600-million hotel, retail and residential redevelopment of the controversial East Circular Quay site, in which Mirvac holds a joint-venture interest with Colonial Mutual. Mirvac, which plans to build 1000 dwellings this financial year, is expanding its luxury serviced apartment and residential Quay West concept to Brisbane, Melbourne, Aucland and, eventually, Perth. Mirvac continues to achieve above-average occupancies in its hotels, which include Sydney's famous Sebel Town House and the Marriott on Hyde Park. - $90 million
Under $100 Million Business Review Weekly May 22, 1995
Property giant Mirvac Group Ltd has arrived on the WA property development scene with a $35 million takeover of private developer Fini Group.
Feb 2001 Takeover of Fini
He said Fini's current property development activities would be taken on and completed by Mirvac-Fini but its management interests in retirement living would remain with the Fini family through its Fini Villages structure.
Mirvac Group announces acquisition of WA property group. Australian Associated Press February 13, 2001
ADRIAN Fini and Bob Hamilton had known each other for more than a decade before the Perth-based developer decided to sell his family's business to Hamilton's diversified and giant Mirvac Group.
Sept 2003 The relationship
Fini joined his father's company in 1982 after graduating from London's Inchbald School of Design, to handle development.
His true passion lies in design and architecture and he says the Mirvac merger freed him up from some management chores, to concentrate on the work he loves.
Fini to all in the family in a step up to world stage - PEOPLE IN PROPERTY The Australian September 4, 2003
Fini entered the retirement villages business and built eleven mostly luxury villages. Fini Villages targeted aging wealthy home owners who were downsizing. He employed strata title and a modified strata title system called purple title with management fees and a deferred payment, due when the units were sold. This is where the profits came.
FINI Villages Development has just completed stage one of The Pines in Ponte Vecchio Boulevard, Ellenbrook.
Feb 2000 Fini style village
The project consists of 15 villas from 90 to 150sq m. Ten villas have been sold with those remaining costing $129,000 to $195,000.
The Pines village centre - due to open next month - will consist of a barbecue court, bowling green, cafe, caravan and boat parking area, computer and dining rooms, function room, gymnasium, hairdresser and beauty salon, hobby room, arts and crafts, medical and health, music room, reading and library area, residents workshop, a spa and swimming pool. There will also be a village bus service.
Pines Offers Resort Style The West Australian February 12, 2000
The innovative design of the luxury oceanside complex has just been given approval for a design that reflects the existing needs and future demands of Australia's fastest-growing demographic population - people over 55.
Oct 2000 Another new village
In the hub of one of Perth's fastest-growing suburbs, Harbourside Village will have 156 single-level and two-storey homes and has been designed to function as a community within the broader community, providing a relaxed, independent and interactive lifestyle.
Paul Jones, director of architectural firm Jones Coulter Young, said the Fini Group had successfully encapsulated the needs of the empty-nester wanting to "downsize" without giving up outside interests and pursuits.
"This village will set a new benchmark for retirement living and we are proud to be involved with the project," he said.
The clubhouse will feature a pool, a spa, a gym, a practice bowling green, a community workshop, a business centre, a boardroom, an integrated games room, a home cinema facility, a picturesque dining room overlooking the pool terrace, a promenade walk, a gazebo and much more.
To provide strong community links, an interconnecting network of pedestrian paths will give residents easy access to surrounding parks, beaches, shops, the Mindarie Marina Hotel, conservation areas, heritage lime kilns and more.
Fini Group Seeks Buyer Input In Mindarie Village Design The West Australian October 28, 2000
Fini Villages' one-bedroom apartments start at $68,000, three-bedroom villas are priced at up to $395,000 and average ongoing costs are around $200 a month.
May 2002 Fini charges
Retirement, resort-style. Sunday Times (Perth) May 5, 2002
Fini Villages manager of community planning and development, Mary Fraser, said the Fini villages were geared towards the top 25 per cent of the market and had a strong focus on lifestyle.
May 2003 Targeting top 25%
Ms Fraser said either strata title or purple title covered dwellings in Fini's villages.
Retirement a boomer market WA Business News May 14, 2003
As with Gandel Retirement Villages the strata and purple title contracts with residents proved to be a major problem. The contracts generally favoured the developer over the residents. Residents found themselves locked in and unable to sell out when they were unhappy. Other residents were angry when Fini attempted to change the terms of their contracts, particularly the payments. There were disputes and law suits about these matters, about rates and about GST. The government's plans to change the regulations to favour the developers caused such an outcry that they backed away. People in their 80s found themselves involved in bitter drawn out battles with the company.
Eighty six year old Jack Mews and his wife Hester entered one of Finis luxury villages but were not happy there, particularly about financial matters and their difficulty in selling up. Unlike many others they had the resources to sell up and then take the company with whom they had contracted to court. Fini divided rates between the 54 residents who had purchased instead of dividing it across all 160 units, most still owned by Fini. The Mews refused to pay and sold up after Jack aggressively challenged Finis attempt to block their sale. They also disputed a GST payment claimed by Fini.
The tranquil setting at Harbourside Retirement Village was anything but restful for Jack and Hester Mews after they became embroiled in a dispute with Fini Villages, the managers of the Mindarie complex.
Nov 2004 The problem
The couple bought their home at Harbourside in 2001 and Mr Mews, 85, a retired bank manager, claims relations soured shortly after they moved into their home but it was a dispute over council land rates that ultimately sent them packing.
Fini Villages, he claims, calculates individual rates at Harbourside Village by spreading the total rateable amount over the 54 existing homes, resulting in individual residents being overcharged while Fini avoids paying rates on the undeveloped land and any unsold units at the village (160 units are planned).
Paying his land rates directly to the council cost Mr Mews $315 while his rate assessment from Fini Villages was $600 to $700.
An offer was made to buy their Harbourside Village home but just days before settlement Fini Villages lodged a caveat on the property, claiming Mr and Mrs Mews owed $930 in overdue land rates.
Although relieved the sale finally went ahead, Mr and Mrs Mews say the dispute was a stressful time.
"A big percentage of people living there are pensioners who sold their house to get into the village and they feel locked in," Mr Mews said.
"We were lucky in that we had enough extra money to get out but a lot of people don't have that option."
Mr Mews said he got little help from the Department of Employment and Consumer Protection and dealings with the Retirement Villages Disputes Tribunal indicated he would be directed back to DOCEP.
Retired couple rue village rates The West Australian November 15, 2004
Five and a half years after it was introduced, the goods and services tax is still causing problems for retirement villages, with a former resident claiming a village developer has broken an agreement to repay a GST fee.
Jen 2006 The saga drags on
The dispute, one of several being monitored by the retirement village industry and residents, rests on the interpretation of a private ruling from the Australian Taxation Office and the purchase contract signed by the former resident, Jack Mews, when he entered the Harbourside Retirement Village in 2001.
Mr Mews, 86, is now threatening to lodge a caveat on sales of new homes under construction at the Mindarie village if the developer does not repay a goods and services tax that he claims the tax office has ruled he is not required to pay.
Mr Mews and his wife Hester decided to sell their home in the village last year after a number of disputes with Fini Villages, the developer and manager of the waterfront complex.
In the negotiations that followed, Fini Villages removed the caveat and Mr Mews paid the GST charge, on the condition that it would be refunded if he could get a private ruling from the tax office saying he was not liable for the tax.
The caveat that halted the sale was lodged by legal firm McCallum Donovan Sweeney, and solicitor Ross McCallum from that firm also happened to be one of the licensees of Property Settlement Services Pty Ltd, the settlement agency supposedly handling the sale of Mr and Mrs Mews' home.
"We found ourselves in the ridiculous situation where the settlement agency who was acting on our behalf to facilitate the sale of our home, had lodged a caveat preventing the sale from going forward," Mr Mews said.
"We think that amounted to a conflict of interest and lodged a complaint with the Settlement Agents Supervisory Board to that effect."
In August, Mr Mews received a second private ruling from the tax office, which said the GST charge on the deferred facility fee should be paid by the developer.
He then sent the ruling to Fini Villages, asking for the GST charge to be refunded but Fini Villages refused his request, saying Mr Mews misunderstood the private ruling.
GST still a bind for villages The West Australian January 23, 2006
Eighty two year old Mrs Parker had signed a contract with Fini but after a few years Fini decided to change the contract. This advantaged some residents but not others. Mrs Parker would have none of this and she took it to the Retirement Village Disputes Tribunal. The tribunal ruled in her favour which had major implications for the industry. It became a political issue. Fini appealed the decision. Not content with her victory Mrs Parker took action in an attempt to fire Fini as managers for the village.
Mrs Parker was fighting moves by Fini Villages and its management company, to change the monthly fees and long-term charges for residents at the Woodvale village.
Aug 2005 The dispute
Money raised from the changes would be used to prop up the village's sinking fund, used to pay for maintenance of common property at the complex.
The tribunal, which has since been replaced by the State Administrative Tribunal, ruled that residency contracts signed by Mrs Parker and other village residents when they bought their villas were to remain in place.
It also found the proposed changes came under the definition of a service contract, and could not be implemented without tribunal approval.
Act changes upset elderly The West Australian August 1, 2005
The drafting of the Bill was triggered by the tribunal's ruling in a case between Norma Parker, a resident at Fini Village's Timberside Villas in Woodvale, and the managers of the village.
Dec 2004 Government steps in
The tribunal ruled that residency contracts signed by Mrs Parker and other village residents when they bought their villas were to remain in place, preventing Timberside Villas management from making changes to residency deeds that would allow it to increase its share of the proceeds of homes when they are sold, in return for cheaper monthly fees.
The tribunal found the proposed changes came under the definition of a service contract, and could not be implemented without its approval.
Despite the ruling in the case Mrs Parker took to the tribunal, about half of the village's 140 residents had already taken up the offer and are paying the lower monthly fees.
Mrs Parker said she was uneasy about any changes to the Act that could reduce consumer protection.
"In my view, the main concern is for the financial certainty of a village and the financial future of the residents," she said.
State Bill to allow village contract changes The West Australian December 20, 2004
A legal dispute has started on another front at the Timberside Villas Retirement Village, with resident Norma Parker, 82, lodging a submission with the State Administrative Tribunal requesting the dismissal of the strata management company.
Dec 2005 Dismissing Fini as manager
The submission claims that Timberside Villas Management's 80-year tenure to manage the village, which contains 140 homes, is excessive, compared with a more recent five-year limit recommended by the Strata Titles Act.
The submission also claims that fees are being calculated at the Woodvale village, one of the developments in the Fini Villages' network of homes, in a way that disadvantages 25 per cent of residents.
In her submission, Mrs Parker is also seeking an ancillary order for an administrator to be appointed to the village to carry out a retrospective audit of its financial records and, if necessary, to take corrective action to reclaim money incorrectly or illegally taken from monthly levies or the village's sinking fund, a pool of money used to pay for maintenance of common property at the village.
According to her submission, fees collected from residents at the village have wrongly been used to pay for a number of items at the Village Centre, a lot which is owned by the developer, including a $69,634 emergency call system.
The submission also lists several secondary reasons for TVM to be removed from its management position, including breaches of orders made by the Retirement Villages Disputes Tribunal, which oversaw disputes in the retirement industry before the State Administrative Tribunal.
Specifically, the submission alleges that TVM has continued to charge and collect fees from residents at the village according to changes made to individual contracts, after the Retirement Villages Disputes Tribunal ruled that the changes were not to be introduced.
Village resident wants managers out The West Australian December 5, 2005
Changing the law
Following Mrs Parkers victory the government came to the rescue of the companies by not only proposing legislation to make changes to the contracts legal but by exempting villages from oversight by the body designated to protect residents interests. The backlash from the residents was so strong that the government backed away - temporarily at least.
The WA Government has approved the drafting of a Bill to amend the Retirement Villages Act after a ruling in August from the Retirement Villages Disputes Tribunal left the industry in limbo.
Dec 2004 Government helps the villages
The amendments would make it possible for retirement village operators to change the terms of contracts with village residents, provided the residents agree, in a move the Government says aims to restore certainty to the industry.
Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke said the tribunal's decision had brought into doubt the validity of every change made to residence contracts since the Retirement Village Act came into operation in 1992.
State Bill to allow village contract changes The West Australian December 20, 2004
Village residents fear developers will be able to change contracts too easily
Aug 2005 Elderly backlash
Moves by the Gallop Government to introduce changes to the Retirement Villages Act that will make it easier for village operators to change the terms of contracts have alarmed elderly residents who fear they could be exploited by developers.
As things stand, any changes to a service contract need to be reviewed by the State Administrative Tribunal but under the proposed changes, this review process would disappear.
Clem Allsworth, a resident at Harbourside Village in Mindarie, claims the changes are totally unsatisfactory and remove the remaining protection residents have against being exploited by opportunistic developers.
"These amendments play right into the hands of such developers to the extent that they will have an open hand to do what they virtually like without fear of any external overview or control from legislation," he said.
Margaret Pursey, a workers' compensation volunteer, is dealing first hand with a change to a residency deed that was never endorsed by the tribunal, as she settles the estate of her mother, Dorothy Brown, who spent the past 10 years of her life in a Bibra Lake retirement village.
In this case, changes to a residency contract resulted in an extra charge of $8875.
According to the seller's settlement statement sent to Mrs Pursey and her sister, their mother's unit sold for $177,500 in April and from that Fini Villages took $44,375 as redemption money or profit to the developer.
Mrs Brown bought a unit at Victoria Estate in the Lakeside Retirement Village in Bibra Lakes in 1993 but the changes to her residency contract were allegedly made six years later in 1999.
"The residents were asked to vote by a show of hands if they wanted to accept the change and a lot of the residents were clearly confused about what was going on. These votes should only ever be based on secret ballots because people feel intimidated by the officials and are reluctant to disclose their real view."
Another contentious part of the proposed changes to the Act is that it would be retrospective, and would legalise changes made to residency contracts in villages that had not been approved by the tribunal, except where the agreement of the resident is believed to have been obtained.
"If they have taken the money out without permission, then I want it back and so I would imagine would the families of the 10 or 12 units that have sold in the village since my mother's death," said Mrs Pursey, who plans to take her complaint to the DOCEP.
Act changes upset elderly The West Australian August 1, 2005
A controversial change to the Retirement Village Act has been put on hold while the Department for Consumer and Employment Protection works through the big number of submissions it received on the amendment and while it waits for a District Court ruling on a retirement village dispute.
Aug 2005 New laws on hold
Village Act changes put on ice The West Australian August 29, 2005
For Updates:- A good way to check for recent developments in aged care is to go to the aged care crisis group's search page and enter the name of the company, nursing home or key words relating to any other matter in the search box. Most significant press reports are flagged there. The aged care crisis web site has recently been restructured and some of the older links used from this site may not work.
This page created Sept 2006 by Michael Wynne