Retirement Villages Act, Regulations and Codes
Every registered retirement village in New Zealand must comply with the Retirement Villages Act 2003 and associated regulations and codes.
About the Act
The Retirement Villages Act 2003 (the Act) sets out obligations for retirement village operators and the rights of residents and anyone considering moving into a retirement village.
Public consultation for the review of the Retirement Villages Act 2003
Submissions for public consultation for the review of the Retirement Villages Act 2003 closed at 5pm, Monday 20 November 2023. If you need to contact us about the consultation, please email RVAreview@hud.govt.nz
Consultation Key proposals
The consultation invited feedback on a number of proposed changes, including:
- replacing the disclosure statement with new plain language documents,
- introducing a partially standardised occupation right agreement,
- requiring operators to meet the direct costs of maintaining and repairing operator-owned chattels and fixtures,
- replacing the current dispute resolution scheme with a new scheme that aligns with the best practice principles for dispute resolution,
- requiring disclosure documents to include more comprehensive information on transferring within a village to aged residential care,
- stopping fees after a unit is vacated, and
- introducing a mandatory timeframe for repaying a resident’s capital when they move out, and/or requiring an operator to pay interest if the repayment is not made after a certain time.
Protecting residents' rights
The Act provides rights for residents:
- before they move into a retirement village
- while they live in a retirement village, and
- after they leave.
These rights ensure they:
- understand their financial obligations and other obligations as residents of the retirement village, and
- get what they’ve been promised or are entitled to.
Residents typically agree to pay a capital sum for the right to live in a unit in a registered retirement village. The agreement can take several forms, such as a license to occupy, freehold, leasehold, cross-lease or unit title.
A capital sum can also mean periodic payments if those payments are substantially more than rent for similar services or facilities.
Anyone considering moving into a retirement village should seek independent legal advice and are strongly encouraged to seek financial advice to make sure they fully understand what they’re entering into.
Occupation Right Agreement
When a resident moves into a retirement village, they purchase a right to occupy, or an Occupation Rights Agreement.
- sets out the terms and conditions of the residency
- is based on a capital investment, and
- is a form of tenancy.
Before an intending resident signs an Occupation Rights Agreement, village operators must give them a copy of the retirement village's disclosure statement, Code of Residents' Rights, and Code of Practice.
Code of Residents’ Rights
The Code of Residents' Rights outlines the basic rights the Act gives to residents of retirement villages.
The disclosure statement must comply with the Act. Retirement village operators can develop their own statement, or they can use the following free template as a guide.
Registering a retirement village
A retirement village must be registered on the Retirement Villages Register. To register, an operator must complete an application for registration, provide any requested supporting documents and pay a registration fee. To stay registered, village operates must file an annual return.
Code of Practice 2008
The Code of Practice 2008 sets out the minimum requirements for retirement village operators to meet their legal obligations, including:
- staffing of retirement villages
- safety and personal security of residents
- transfer of residents within a retirement village, e.g. from independent units to serviced care or care facilities
- the complaints process
- maintenance and upgrades
- termination of an occupation right agreement by the operator or resident
- communication with residents.
Provisions in the Code of Practice override any less-favourable terms in an occupation right agreement. Village operators must give a copy of the Code of Practice to any resident or prospective resident who asks for one.
Retirement village operators must appoint a statutory supervisor, unless the Registrar of Retirement Villages grants them an exemption.
The statutory supervisor helps protect the interests of retirement village residents.
Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission, led by current Mana Ahungarua Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson, monitors:
- the effects of the legislation and Code of Practice, and
- the establishment and oversight of the disputes panel system.
Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission is also responsible for promoting education, information and publications about retirement villages.