Assisted living facility (ALF) operators must put a quick refund system in place. Florida law is very clear that when required, refunds must be issued quickly. If your ALF issues a refund late, there will be a penalty assessed that will be very costly to your ALF.
If your ALF needs to issue a refund, it needs to be done as soon as possible. If it is late, according to Florida statute 429.24, your ALF will be fined three times the amount of the initial refund amount. Three times is a significant amount for an ALF that is running without much financial leeway. The resident or their estate will receive half of this, and the Health Care Trust fund will receive the other half.
In terms of what is eligible for refunds, it gets a little complicated. Residents must be refunded any remaining amount from monthly payments, once they have vacated and removed their personal property. This date is referred to as the termination date. You have to provide 14 days of notice to a resident asking them to remove their property. If the resident does not remove their property, the ALF is allowed to move the property to storage and charge those expenses to the resident.
However, the cost for these fees must be less than 20% of the normal rental rate.
Once the resident has vacated the ALF and removed their property, it is time to determine what refund they are entitled to based on the termination date. Following the termination date, the ALF has 45 calendar days to issue the refund. This 45-day rule applies whether the resident has been discharged, transferred, or is deceased. When a resident dies, it can sometimes be difficult to identify where the refund should go. However, there is no additional time allotted to do this. A refund still must be issued within 45 days, or your ALF will face the fines discussed above.
Finally, be sure you have your refund policy spelled out in all resident contracts. This is a legal requirement. Having your ALF’s refund policy in your contracts will help ensure everyone is on the same page and help protect you from needless disputes.