Retirement villages are governed by the Retirement Villages Act 2003. The Act strengthens consumer protection for residents and intending residents, providing a regime to control and monitor retirement village operators. Any facility operating as a retirement village must be registered on the Retirement Villages Register.
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What a retirement village is
A retirement village contains two or more residential units to provide residential accommodation with services and/or facilities. Retirement villages are mostly inhabited by people who are retired and their spouses.
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 periodical payments, if the sum is substantially more than would be paid to cover rent for similar services or facilities.)
Intending residents must seek independent legal advice, and are strongly encouraged to seek financial advice to ensure they fully understand the type of retirement village obligations that they're entering into.
The Retirement Villages Act and Regulations
Retirement villages in New Zealand are governed by the Retirement Villages Act 2003 (the Act).
The Act sets out the obligations of retirement village operators and helps ensure residents, or people intending to become residents:
- understand their financial and residential obligations, and
- receive what they're promised or entitled to.
Retirement village operators must also meet their ongoing statutory reporting obligations under the Act.
Registering a retirement village
Any facility operating as a retirement village must be registered on the Retirement Villages Register. A village can't make any offers of occupation to residents unless it's registered.
To register a retirement village you must:
- file an application form
- provide the requested supporting documents, and
- pay a fee.
The Registrar of Retirement Villages
The Registrar of Retirement Villages oversees the registration of retirement villages and maintenance of the Retirement Villages Register.
Rights and obligations of operators and residents
The Act aims to strengthen consumer protection for residents and intending residents. It does this by providing a regime to control and monitor retirement village operators.
For example, operators must:
- provide residents and intending residents with particular documents (for example an Occupation Rights Agreement)
- appoint a statutory supervisor.
The Retirement Commissioner
The Retirement Commissioner is appointed by the Minister for Commerce, and their role includes monitoring the retirement villages sector.
The Commissioner works for the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) which is responsible for:
- promoting education, information and publications about retirement villages
- monitoring the effects of the legislation and Code of Practice, and
- the establishment and oversight of the disputes panel system.
Information for residents and intending residents
The CFFC also provides information for residents and intending residents on:
- living in a retirement village, and
- the legislation, Code, complaints and reporting procedures governing the industry.
The Government's Sorted website also provides tips and checklists for choosing a retirement village.
Published: May 18, 2020