When an Assisted Living Community Closes: Rights and Protections of Residents Under California Law
Many women and men in their Golden years, together with their own adult children, find themselves contemplating whether the time has come for the parents to consider transitioning to an assisted living community. If that is the case, due diligence demands coming to a full understanding of what life is like in an assisted living community. This includes gleaning important information about the rights and protections available under California law for residents of an assisted living community that is slated to close.
In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the rights and protections afforded under California law when an assisted living community is going to close. Our discussion includes these vital topics:
- Written notice to residents when a community is to close
- Relocation evaluation
- Closure plan
- Review of rights of residents
- Specific relocation protections
Written Notice to Residents When an Assisted Living Community Is to Close
If an assisted living facility is going to close, it must provide to all residents a 60-day written notice of the intended closure. This notice must be delivered to every resident in that assisted living community. It must also be delivered to any legal representative or agent of a resident of that community. Finally, the 60-day notice needs to be delivered to the Community Care Licensing office. If an assisted living community that plans to close has more that seven residents, the notice cannot be issued until the facility has submitted and has an approved closure plan by the state of California licensing agency.
California law is very specific about what a 60-day notice of closure to residents of an assisted living community must contain:
- Reason or reasons for eviction, with specific facts pertaining to each reason (keeping in mind that residents technically are being evicted from the facility because of the closure and through no fault of their own)
- A copy of the resident’s current service plan
- Relocation evaluation
- A list of referral agencies
- Notification of the resident’s right to contact the licensing agency to investigate the reasons given for the eviction
- Address and telephone number of the local Long Term Care Ombudsman program
One important additional piece of information: Once an assisted living facility has issued this notice, it cannot accept new residents nor can it enter into new admission agreement. Yes, these seems obvious. Nonetheless, the state of California has made it a point to include this prohibition within the law governing the closure of an assisted living community and other long-term care facilities in the state.
Based on an individual resident’s existing care plan or service plan, an assisted living facility is responsible for preparing what legally is known as a relocation evaluation. Prepared for each resident in a facility, a relocation evaluation needs to make facility recommendations that will best meet the needs, goals, and objectives of an individual resident’s care plan or service plan. A list of such facilities in a 60-mile radius is to be created for a resident. In addition, a facility staff member must meet with a resident and his or her legal representative (if there is one) within 30 days of issuing the closure notice.
If an assisted living community has seven or more residents that will be relocated as a result of a closure, the facility is legally required to prepare and submit a closure plan to Community Care Licensing for approval. A facility with seven or more residents to be relocated is prohibited from issuing a 60-day notice to any resident until the closure plan has been duly approved.
The plan must set forth that there has been a relocation evaluation completed for each resident. In addition, the closure plan must indicate that staff of the facility is available to assist with transfers.
Review of Right of Residents
The following rights have been addressed previously in this article:
- Right to a 60-day notice
- Right to a relocation evaluation
- Right to meeting with staff about relocation evaluation
- Right to approval of closure plan if facility has seven of more residents affected by closure
- Right to file a complaint with the State of California assisted living licensing authority
In addition to these previously discussed rights, the state of California vests these additional rights on residents of an assisted living community when the facility is going to be closed:
- Right to refund of prepaid monthly fees on a proportional per diem basis. If the resident gives five days notice before leaving the facility, the refund will be paid at the time the resident leaves the facility, or otherwise within seven days from the date that the resident leaves the facility and the unit is vacated.
- Right to refund of pre-admission fees in excess of $500: a refund of 100% if paid within 6 months before the notice of eviction; 75% if paid more than 6 months but not more than 12 months; 50% if paid more than 12 months but not more than 18 months; and 25% if paid more than 18 months but not more than 24 months. Note: No pre-admission fee refund is required, but is permissible, if paid 25 months or more before the notice of eviction.
- Right to file a civil action for a facility’s violation of residents’ relocation rights including costs and attorney’s fees.
In addition to the various rights set forth previously in this article, the state of California has established an additional layer of legal protections to residents of assisted living when a facility is closing. These protections are:
- The facility must submit a written report on any eviction to the state licensing within five days of its occurrence
- Fines can be levied against an assisted living community for each violation per day to promote compliance
- If it is necessary to protect the residents from abuse, abandonment, or other threat to their health and safety, the state licensing agency shall take any necessary action to minimize trauma for the residents, including appointment of a temporary manager of an assisted care community to care for residents if appropriate
- The state licensing agency must seek the help of local agencies and advocacy organizations to assist in the transfer and relocation when there is a determination that the health and safety of residents is in jeopardy
- The state licensing agency can enlist the assistance of the Attorney General, local District Attorney, or city attorney in order to seek injunctive relief as well as damages against an assisted living facility for failure to provide relocation services as mandated by California law
- Within 10 days of all residents having left the facility, the operator of an assisted living community must submit a final list of names and new locations of relocated residents to both the state licensing office as well as the local Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, facilitating follow up to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the relocated residents