The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has come under fire for its "lack of action" as about 60 Mandurah residents risk losing their life savings, of more than $10 million combined, to a failed property management group.
More than 100 elderly residents in total are seeking help from lawyers and politicians after Sterling First went into administration last month, with $20 million of investors money.
ASIC had been investigating the organisation since 2017.
Pensioners and people approaching retirement bought lifetime lease packages from Sterling First, which allowed them to rent residential properties for a certain amount of time, as an alternative to buying a home.
This was just one of the many rental management options of the South Perth organisation.
Affected parties are set lose up to $300,000 each. Some are facing eviction and others are busy organising a class action against the company to get back the money they lost.
Sterling First has not responded to questions from the Mandurah Mail.
Several local tenants met with Mandurah MP David Templeman and Murray-Wellington MP Robyn Clarke on Friday, June 14, to ask for help.
Mr Templeman said the situation was "distressing" and he would discuss the "complex" issue with WA Attorney-General John Quigley.
"This morning I had quite a distressing meeting with people from Robyn Clarke's and my electorate, who have been involved in a scandalous situation," he said.
"It is deeply distressing to see good local people affected by the situation.
"When you make decisions about your housing options when you are about to retire, they are big decisions to be made, and they are not made at a whim.
"They were sold an idea that they were going into an affordable housing solution that was safe, secure and simple.
"That's not the case, whatsoever."
Mr Templeman said he was concerned for the health and wellbeing of the elderly tenants involved.
"Good people are becoming ill because of the trauma they are under," he said.
"This could of happened to my parents, to anyone's parents.
There probably isn't a day I haven't broken down.Peter Bosustow
"A great wrong has been done."
Mr Templeman said the tenants deserved answers and he would do what he could to assist their plight.
"We are pledging to them we'll do anything we can to get to the bottom of what has occurred, to support them in any way we can and make sure some justice is delivered here," he said.
"I'll talk to the Attorney about what we might do from a government perspective, but we need to get those answers from ASIC.
I'll talk to the Attorney about what we might do from a government perspective, but we need to get those answers from ASIC.Mandurah MP David Templeman
"That includes ASIC's role in a lack of action.
"It seems there are reports sometime ago of the circumstances of this particular scheme that remain unanswered.
"We want to make sure it doesn't happen again and the agencies that are set up to protect people's interests do the job and the work that they need to do.
"And also, that we have legislative frameworks or monitoring of these certain situations as early as possible.
"If it's picked up that something is wrong, something is done about it - not years or months later."
Peter Bosustow and wife Shelley are leading the charge for a class action, with a meeting planned on Friday, June 21, for the affected parties to discuss their options with lawyers.
Mr Bosustow, a former Carlton football player, said he had worked for Sterling First up until a few years ago and sold home packages for the company.
"I accepted this as a great alternative to retirement living," he said.
"We weren't going to make any money out of it, we just wanted to live comfortable."
Mr Bosustow said the situation has affected his mental health.
"There probably isn't a day I haven't broken down," he said.
"I consider myself a fairly hearty footballer - but this is getting to me."
"We will provide affected tenants and investors with advice and assistance with regard to civil legal action that might be available to them.Consumer Protection Acting Commissioner Lanie Chopping
Mr Bosustow said action must happen now.
"We can not wait three or four years, I guarantee you people will pass away," he said.
"A couple have passed away in the last six to eight months because they are that stressed about it.
"We don't want anyone else caught up in a scheme like this.
"We have to protect the elderly."
Ms Bosustow said they invested $200,000 and spent an extra $10,000 on the Dudley Park home, because they thought they would be their "for the rest of their lives".
"There was no inkling this was happening when Peter was working there," she said.
Consumer Protection Acting Commissioner Lanie Chopping said they began an investigation of Sterling First in July 2016, looking into possible company breaches.
"In March 2017 two of our investigators attended a free seminar conducted by Sterling New Life and it was then we were concerned about what was being promoted which was primarily an investment scheme," she said.
"The matter was referred to ASIC the following month and Consumer Protection handed over our investigation files."
Ms Chopping asked affected tenants and investors to contact Consumer Protection, to be added to a registry and receive advice related to their tenancy rights.
"We will represent the interests of the affected WA consumers in our dealings with the administrator Ferrier Hodgson and ASIC," she said.
"ASIC has assured us that they were giving this case a high priority but are restricted in what they can say publicly due to their investigation.
"We are liaising with the Housing Authority with regard to what assistance they can provide, either accommodating vacating residents or outlining the financial assistance that might be available to rent alternative housing.
"We will provide affected tenants and investors with advice and assistance with regard to civil legal action that might be available to them and explore possible avenues to recover at least part of their investment.
"So there is a lot happening to assist those affected and, while we don't want to offer any false hope, the aim is to help them recover as much of their investment as possible."
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission spokesman told the Mandurah Mail they were investigating the company on "a number of aspects".
For more information visit www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection.
Seniors considering retirement living options can get advice from the Seniors Housing Advisory Centre on 1300 367 057 or by emailing email@example.com.