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. 

See the Retirement Villages Act 2003(external link) 

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. 

The 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.  

Companies Office — Occupation Right Agreement(external link) 

Code of Residents’ Rights 

The Code of Residents' Rights outlines the basic rights the Act gives to residents of retirement villages.  

Code of Residents' Rights(external link) 

Disclosure statement 

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.  

Disclosure statement template(external link) 

Operators’ obligations 

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.  

Registering a retirement village | Companies Office(external link) 

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.  

Code of Practice 2008(external link) 

Statutory supervisor 

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. 

Companies Office — Appointing a statutory supervisor(external link) 

 Retirement Commissioner 

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. 

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission(external link) 

Regulations related to the Act

Retirement Villages (General) Regulations 2006 

Sets out what must be included in key disclosure documents, occupation rights agreements, registration requirements and deed of supervision arrangements with statutory supervisors. 

Retirement Villages (General) Regulations 2006 – New Zealand Legislation(external link) 

Retirement Villages (Disputes Panel) Regulations 2006 

Outlines the process for resolving disputes between residents and operators. All retirement villages, need to operate, or provide access to, an internal complaints facility. Any disputes that can't be resolved at the village level can then be referred to the Disputes Panel set up under the Act. 

Retirement Villages (Disputes Panel) Regulations 2006 – New Zealand Legislation(external link) 

Retirement Villages (Fees) Regulations 2006 

The Retirement Villages Register sets out the fees for registering a retirement village and filing an annual return. 

Retirement Villages Register | Companies Office(external link) 

Retirement Villages (Fees) Regulations 2006 – New Zealand Legislation(external link) 

Retirement Villages (General) Amendment Regulations 2014 

Amends the general regulations dealing with the preparation, auditing and provision of financial statements for retirement villages and operators.  

Retirement Villages (General) Amendment Regulations 2014 – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Related links

What a retirement village is(external link) - Companies Office 

  • Regulatory impact assessment

    Regulatory Impact Statement: Retirement Villages Fees Regulations 2006