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Retirement Villages

Researching your Move

The Retirement Villages Act 2004 became law on 1 July 2005.  The Act has the following objectives:

  •  Identify the rights and obligations of residents, and prospective residents, of retirement villages;
  •  Identify the rights and responsibilities of retirement village operators; and
  •  Provide a means for people to make complaints about retirement villages and for the resolution of disputes concerning retirement village matters.

The Act applies to residential premises that are used predominantly for persons and their spouses who are over the age of 55 years and are retired.  If you entered into a residence contract after 1 July 2005 the residence contract must comply with the new legislation.  If you entered into a resident contract before 1 July 2005 the new legislation will not override a provision of your contract.  However, it will apply to anything not mentioned in your contract.

The new Act requires that before a person enters into a residence contract the retirement village operator is to provide them with:

  •  a copy of the residence contract;
  •  a copy of the village rules;
  •  a check list of questions they should consider when thinking about entering a retirement village;
  •  a notice of their rights under the Retirement Villages Act; and
  •  a copy of any financial information that is available.

The village rules will detail how disputes are to be resolved.  If the parties are unable to resolve a dispute either one can apply to the Director, Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading to resolve the dispute.  The Director is empowered by the Act to make certain orders including payment of monies up to $5000.  An affected person may appeal to a Magistrate against an order of the Director.

If you sign a residence contract you can change your mind within five days of signing and be released from the contract.  If some of the above information isn’t given to you, you can change your mind within five days of the information being given.

A retirement village operator must not at any time ask for power of attorney, or to act as proxy.

If you leave the retirement village, the operator must, within six months of you leaving, refund whatever portion of your ingoing contribution you are entitled to.

For more detailed information you should consult the Retirement Villages Act, or seek legal advice.

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Researching your Move

Moving into a retirement village requires a financial commitment and a change to your lifestyle. You need to consider your future accommodation needs carefully, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want an independent living unit, a serviced apartment or a hostel?
  • What lump sum payments are there and can I get a refund if I decide to move at a later date?
  • What facilities are available if I am sick?
  • What are my transport needs - car, taxi or public transport?
  • Will my funds allow for any future increases in maintenance fees?
  • Can I continue with my hobbies in the village?
  • Are there places such as libraries, churches, recreation facilities nearby?

Before making a commitment, visit a number of retirement villages and note their good and bad points. You can then compare the results and make a short list of the most suitable villages for your needs. Be careful not to be influenced by glossy advertising campaigns.

Visit the villages you like best a number of times just to be sure. Talk to some of the residents, or to members of the residents' committee.

Make sure you clearly understand the financial arrangements and compare the weekly costs. You should also consider extra expenses in the future, such as cleaning and meals, or transferring to a different type of accommodation, as your needs and abilities may change.

Make sure you understand your rights of occupancy. Will you be allowed to make changes to the inside of your unit, or to have someone to stay or live with you? Do you want to keep your pet, or be able to do your own gardening?

Once you have done your research, seek independent legal advice about your rights and obligations on entering into the contract.

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You may wish to consider some of the following to add to your personal checklist for your visits to retirement villages.

Village Exterior

  • Are the grounds pleasant and well-tended?
  • Are the grounds secure?
  • Is there adequate lighting?
  • Are the paths designed for easy access?

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Unit Exterior

  • Is the exterior in good condition?
  • Are there security screens on doors and windows?
  • Are there steps at the entrance to the unit?
  • Are there garden beds and who is responsible for them?
  • Is the unit's exterior lighting adequate?
  • Is the unit well located to suit my particular needs?

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Unit Interior

  • Is it clean and in good repair?
  • Is the decor pleasant?
  • Is there sufficient natural light?
  • How is it heated/cooled?
  • Do the windows and doors open easily?
  • Does the bathroom have safety rails?
  • Are the kitchen/laundry facilities suitable?
  • Is there enough storage space for my needs?
  • Will my furniture fit into the unit?
  • Where is the emergency call system located?
  • Is the telephone connected?
  • Will the unit be suitable if my needs and abilities change in the future?

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The Facilities

  • Is there alternative accommodation in the village if my needs change?
  • Are the village facilities and activities suitable for my needs?
  • Are the local amenities easily accessible?
  • What local transport is available?

 Residence Contract

Before signing a residence contract you should obtain:

  • A copy of the residence contract;
  • A copy of the village rules;
  • A check list of questions you should ask before entering into a contract;
  • A notice of your rights under the Retirement Villages Act 2004; and
  • A copy of financial information relating to the operation of the retirement village.