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Rights and obligations of retirement village residents and operators
Retirement villages in New Zealand operate under the Retirement Villages Act 2003 (the Act). The Act is intended to strengthen consumer protection for residents and intending residents by providing a regime to control and monitor retirement village operators.
The Act also provides rights for people who live in, or are considering entering, registered villages.
On this website, you will find links to the Act and other supporting regulations. Please take the time to view this material and to inform yourself about your rights and obligations. If you have any questions, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and other relevant agency contact details are provided on this page.
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Code of Practice 2008
The Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 is issued by the Minister for Building and Construction. It sets out the minimum requirements that operators must meet, or ensure are met, to fulfil their legal obligations under the Act. These include the minimum requirements for the occupation right agreement (contract) signed between the operator and the intending resident. The Code of Practice took effect on 2 October 2009.
Variations to the Code of Practice issued October 2013
The Code of Practice 2008 has been updated to include three variations approved by the Minister for Building and Construction.
The Variations have been issued following the Canterbury earthquake experience where five retirement villages sustained damage. The earthquake experience caused some retirement village stakeholders to question the adequacy of aspects of the Code of Practice. The issues relate primarily to uncertainties in the no-fault termination process for occupation right agreements, and the adequacy of the payout received by residents in a no-fault exit situation when their unit will not be rebuilt.
The new variations to the Code of Practice have made it clearer and give greater certainty to both retirement village residents and operators.
The changes take into account input from the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, the Retirement Villages Association, the Association of Residents and Retirement Villages (Auckland), as well as retirement village operators and residents.
The revised code with variations came into effect on 14 October 2013. Retirement village operators and residents should now be using the revised code.
Full revised Code of Practice 2008 »
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General comments on retirement villages
In summary, a retirement village contains two or more residential units to provide residential accommodation and/or services or facilities predominantly for people who are retired – and those people agree to pay a capital sum to live there. Note that a ‘capital sum’ can also mean periodical payments, if the payments are substantially more than would be paid to cover rent for such services or facilities.
Residents ‘purchase’ a right to occupy, or an occupation right agreement. The purchase is based on a capital investment and is a form of tenancy.
MBIE (formerly the Department of Building) is responsible for the Retirement Villages Act 2003, since 1 July 2005. MBIE's responsibilities include the promotion of education and publication of information about retirement villages. These functions were previously undertaken by the Retirement Commissioner. MBIE agreed with the Commissioner to undertake these functions in August 2007.
Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income
Role is to monitor the effects of the legislation and Code of Practice and the establishment and oversight of the disputes panel system.
Registrar for Retirement Villages
Is located in the Companies Office in MBIE and the Registrar of Retirement Villages is responsible for registration-related matters.
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