UniSA School of Law - Law Evenings Seminar Series

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Yungondi Building, UniSA City West Campus (Room Y1-70, Executive Education Room)

61 North Terrace

Adelaide, SA 5000

Australia

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UniSA School of Law Presents Law Evenings Seminar Series

About this Event

Accommodation agreements between older people and their families: A legal and emotional minefield.

Presented by Professor Eileen Webb with commentary from Professor Wendy Lacey

With housing affordability declining and an ageing population, family arrangements involving shared property and/or pooled resources are commonplace and will become more so. The ubiquitous ‘granny-flat’ is but one of many examples of such an arrangement.

This is not to be discouraged; the benefits of multi-generational living arrangements are many and include the provision of companionship, mutual support, and financial and housing security. Furthermore, budgetary constraints in the aged care and health sectors mean the provision of accommodation and care for older people in a family environment is an attractive option for both society and government. The problem is that, when such arrangements break down, there is a lack of legal recourse for the older person that can see an older person left without funds, accommodation and care.

It is assumed that the law can accommodate recognition, and protection, of such arrangements. However, the issue is not straightforward at all. As such arrangements are made between family, in most cases the parties have not entered into a contract nor have any certainty regarding the parties’ rights and obligations under the agreement. This is especially the case when serious and unanticipated events occur such as the divorce of the adult child or the need for the older person to move into aged care. In the absence of a contract, and again in most cases, no interest in the land, the older person must seek assistance through various equitable doctrines that provide little practical assistance. This path can be lengthy, expensive and, in many cases, ultimately futile. The arrangements can also have unintended consequences regarding taxation and social security benefits.

This presentation discusses the distinctive characteristics of these transactions, and the legal pitfalls for older people. In so doing, recent cases analysing the nature of the agreements and appropriate remedies will be discussed. The presentation will conclude with some suggestions as to how the law can best respond to these arrangements either by adapting existing principles, or through legislative amendments.

Commentator

Professor Wendy Lacey is a foundation member and the former Dean of Law & Head of School (2014-2019) of the School of Law at the University of South Australia.

Professor Lacey is a founding member and co-convenor of the Australian Research Network on Law and Aging (ARNLA), and is a member of the Minister for Health's Steering Committee tasked with monitoring the implementing the State’s Strategy for Safeguarding the Rights of Older Persons. She has been the Chair of the Steering Committee’s Legislative Response Working Group, was co-convenor of the Human Rights and Security Research and Innovation Cluster at UniSA, and had been a peer reviewer in the law discipline for the Australian Research Council (ARC). She was also invited to join the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Advisory Committee to assist with its National Inquiry into Elder Abuse (ALRC Report 131, 2017)

Law Evenings Seminar Series

Law Evenings is designed to engage with members of the wider profession and university community on topical legal questions. Seminars will be held after business hours and allow opportunities for networking.

Professionals may earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for all Law Evenings seminars. Each seminar accounts for 1 CPD point, under the general category.

For further information visit our website.

Date and Time

Location

Yungondi Building, UniSA City West Campus (Room Y1-70, Executive Education Room)

61 North Terrace

Adelaide, SA 5000

Australia

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