What you should look out for in a Retirement Village contract

Research shows that most people enjoy a high level of satisfaction when living in a Retirement Village.

Villages vary greatly – you’ll notice different sized villages; from very few units to some with hundreds; possibly different types of units within the same complex; newer villages and older villages. You will discover that the community facilities available at each village can vary, with some offering a wide range of services such as a swimming pool, bowling green, cafés, etc, and others that may only have a basic village meeting room. But the differences are not just those you can see. The way the village is operated can also vary.

One other thing that varies is what is in a retirement village contract. Once you’ve chosen your village, you must sign an Occupation Right Agreement (ORA). This is the legally binding agreement between the resident and the village operator. The ORA sets out the terms and conditions of your right to live in the village.

The agreements set out conditions related to the following:

  • Weekly fees
  • Deferred Management Fees
  • Occupation
  • Care facilities provided
  • Resale when a resident ceases to occupy
  • Matters concerning care of the property

It will vary from village to village so it’s important that you understand the differences. There are a number of things you should take special note of when deciding to move into a retirement village . These include (but are not limited to):

  • How much are the regular outgoing fees? What are they for? How often are they increased and by what rate? (Some villages set the rate when you sign.)
  •  Whether you can:  have friends or relatives stay in the unit; make any alterations or additions to the unit; sublet the unit; have any say regarding the resale or marketing of the unit or keep a pet.
  • Your obligations in respect of the interior of the dwelling and whether you are responsible for the cost of repairs and maintenance, and for the full cost of refurbishment on termination.
  • Your insurance obligations.
  • Any Village rules (including parking rules) and/or codes of conduct.
  • What home help you can receive. Some contracts allow community-based support providers to come in and provide care and support (just as they would if you lived elsewhere). Other contracts state that any support services you receive must be purchases from the village, while others allow for a mix, e.g. your personal care needs can be provided by a community-based home support provider, but your domestic assistance must be purchased from the village.

Keep a written note of verbal assurances that are given or promises that are made. Ask the village manager or your lawyer to incorporate these in the occupation right agreement.

Read your village contract carefully and consider issues such as this. If you want to change some of the terms, the best time to negotiate is before you sign up.

Once you have signed a contract you have a 15 day ‘cooling off’ period, which allows you to cancel if you change your mind.

Moving into a retirement village is a complex legal and financial decision. Get professional advice from lawyers who are specialized in dealing with retirement village contracts. You will not regret getting this advice and help!

If you are interested in Retirement Village living have a look at some local options on Eldernet. Or order our Where From Here booklet which has important information and a list of local operators. You can order one by clicking here.

To find lawyers who specialize in this type of law, click here

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.