In a previous post, I introduced the core components of an assisted living residency agreement. Unless you’re an attorney, these agreements can be quite intimidating. In fact, many families don’t even read them closely, much less bring them to an attorney for review.
With contracts, many things are negotiable, so don’t hesitate to ask. This is especially true if the facility has many vacancies.
The purpose of the Understanding Residency Agreements series is to provide a basic understanding of these core components. The contract we’ll use as an example is from a major corporate assisted living company. Many of these contracts can be found by searching Google, but I believe this agreement serves as good example.
This post will discuss living accommodations and the term of the agreement.
I. Living Accommodations
This section of the contract describes the unit and common areas to be leased by the resident. The language in this section is fairly self-explanatory.
Some things to be aware of include:
- Confirm the exact unit identified in the contract is the unit you’ve agreed to rent
- Confirm your loved one, his/her friends and your family have the right to use common areas. These are areas of the facility that are freely available to residents, although some facilities put restrictions on who can use them.
II. Term of Residency Agreement
This section of the contract defines the term of the agreement and what happens at termination. In the example contract, the resident’s rights to ownership are defined (there are none), the length of the agreement is defined, and the “what do to” at termination and with personal property is defined.
Things to be aware of in this section include:
- The length of the agreement should be monthly. Be cautious of longer agreements, especially if you have no termination rights in the event your loved one is no longer able to live there.
- No auto-renewal. In the event you agree to a term longer than monthly, ensure there is no auto-renewal clause. As you may imagine from its name, auto-renewal automatically renews the contract for a specified period of time, unless you notify in writing your desire not to renew. If the term is monthly, then auto-renewal doesn’t matter as you’ll only have 30 days exposure financially.
- Limit obligations at vacancy. Whether it be due to health or death, inquire about your obligations in the event your loved one is no longer able to reside in the community. Some examples include: How long are you obligated to pay after your loved on has left? How long do you have to remove belongings?
- Reasonable notice. Ensure your loved one is provided reasonable notice before the facility shows your unit to a potential resident. 24-48 hours is reasonable in most situations. Try to avoid anything that doesn’t require notice, as this can be stressful to your loved one.
These sections are fairly standard, but the above tips will help you ask the write questions and negotiate where you feel necessary.
An article regarding contracts wouldn’t be complete without a disclaimer.
I am not an attorney. I am writing these posts with the input an attorney who specialized in contracts. The posts are not intended to provide legal advice, and I strongly encourage you to review any legal agreement with a qualified attorney.