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What is an ORA?

Buying into a village is different to purchasing a house. For the majority of villages, you do not ‘own’ it or the land it’s on (as you might own a house elsewhere). The sum you pay to 'buy' into the village is known as your Capital Contribution.

An Occupation Right Agreement (ORA) is defined in the Retirement Villages Act 2003. It governs interactions between a village operator and residents, and gives the resident the right to occupy a ‘home’ such as a unit, apartment, or villa within the village. Among other things it sets out each village’s terms and conditions.

The legal title to your home can vary e.g., ‘Licence to Occupy’ (LTO), ‘Unit Title’, ‘Lease’; the most common being an LTO. As a village ‘purchase’ is a complex legal arrangement, you must get specialised, independent legal advice. Legal fees may be more than for a standard property transaction.

If you intend to ‘purchase’, the village operator will give you a copy of the ORA and other documents including:

  • Disclosure Statement – this will outline the type of investment or legal title involved and the costs associated with living in the village.
  • Code of Residents’ Rights – this outlines your basic rights.
  • Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 and 2017 Variations – these give greater clarity to residents and village operators.

All of these documents need to be carefully considered. They are essential to helping you understand what you are ‘buying’.

For further information, see ‘Thinking of living in a retirement village’ produced by Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission.

Note: Once you have signed a contract with a Retirement Village, you have a 15-day ‘cooling off’ period during which you can cancel.

Find ALL retirement villages in New Zealand here. Find available properties here.

Find legal services on Making Life Easier.

Updated: 10 Jan 2024
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