Retirement village residents have certain rights and obligations. Some villages will also have specific rules. This page outlines these general rights and obligations, village rules, and what happens if there is a of change of operator.
Residents rights and obligations
You have the right to:
- exercise self-reliance and autonomy in your personal, domestic and financial affairs
- live in a village that is safe and secure
- live in an environment that is free from harassment or intimidation
- have your peace, comfort and privacy respected
- decide what possessions to have in your premises
- have requests for repairs and maintenance responded to within a reasonable time
- have input into financial decision making
- access any information about you held by the operator
- appoint an agent to receive notices and documents on your behalf.
You also have obligations to:
- respect the rights of other residents, visitors and staff
- not interfere with the peace, comfort or privacy of other residents
- not act in a way that negatively affects the occupational health and safety of village workers
- respect the rights of the operator, employees and agents to work in an environment free from harassment and intimidation
- not intentionally or recklessly cause property damage or injure anyone
- comply with the village rules and make sure that anybody you invite to the village also complies.
Rules of conduct
Changes to retirement village laws in 2019 established the rules of conduct for the conduct and behaviour of operators.
They aim to improve accountability and provide greater peace of mind for residents when it comes to the behaviour and conduct they can expect from operators.
The rules prescribe mandatory minimum standards for:
- knowledge of relevant legislation
- conduct when dealing with both prospective and current residents
- honest and ethical practices when marketing retirement villages
- ways to solve disputes and handle complaints within villages
- reporting and management of conflicts of interest
- the training and skills of operators and their staff
- interactions with external selling agents when selling a residence.
The offence provisions within the Rules commence on 1 January 2020.
The rules of conduct are enforceable and significant penalties may apply if operators fail to comply.
If your retirement village is a community land scheme or strata scheme, village rules do not apply. Instead, you have 'by-laws'.
It is common for villages to have rules, but not all do. If there are rules in place, a copy must be attached to your contract.
Village rules can only relate to the use, enjoyment, control and management of the village.
Examples of what's covered by village rules
Village rules usually cover matters such as:
- visitors and guests
- garbage disposal
- car parking and speed limits
- the use of services or facilities
- the external appearance of resident’s premises
- gardening and landscaping
- the use of motorised wheelchairs, and
- other restrictions on the use of communal areas.
We have developed a set of model rules to help you if you want to implement your own.
Changing the rules
To suggest a change to the rules, a written request can be put to the village operator by:
- the residents committee
- a group of residents (5 residents or 10% of the residents of the village, whichever is the greater, or if the village has fewer than 10 occupied units, a majority of residents).
An operator can also propose changes to the rules.
The operator must hold a meeting of residents within 28 days after receiving the request.
Residents will have to vote by special resolution which means at least 75% of residents who participate in the ballot, must support the change.
The operator must notify all residents of the outcome within 7 days.
If any change to the rules imposes additional costs to the operator, the operator must get consent from the residents to update the annual budget. This is by a majority vote (more than 50% of the votes cast in person or by proxy agree).
Residents or the operator can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal if they think any of the rules are unjust, unconscionable, harsh or oppressive, or inconsistent with the law.
Owners corporations and community associations
In a strata or community scheme, the owners corporation / community association is responsible for administering the scheme and maintaining the common property.
An owners corporation or community association can delegate some or all of its functions to a strata managing agent and may also employ a separate caretaker or building manager.
A strata retirement village will also have a village operator.
The managing agent and operator may or may not be the same person.
Some owners corporations / community associations prefer to appoint a separate person as their managing agent to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Retirement villages usually have village rules that deal with matters like noise and pets. In a strata or community scheme, these matters are dealt with under ‘by-laws’.
To avoid any cross-over, rules made under the Retirement Village Act do not apply to any part of a village that forms part of the strata scheme.
Visit our strata by-laws information for more detail.
What are my rights if there's a change of operator?
If the operator of a retirement village changes, the rights and obligations for the residents remain the same.
If the new operator wants to be involved in the management or control of the village, they must hold a meeting with the residents and any former occupants who still have entitlements under their contracts.
The meeting must be held at least 28 days before they become the operator. At this meeting the potential operator must report on their:
- financial ability to operate the village, and
- plans for the future management of the village, including any proposed changes.
The residents and former occupants must be given at least seven days’ written notice of the meeting.