Retirement villages

Moving into a retirement village is an important financial decision and lifestyle choice.

Benefits can include a home that is easily maintained, in a private and secure environment with people of a similar age. However, retirement village residents are not automatically entitled to aged care services, even if these are on site.

Prospective residents should explore different villages and learn about the costs involved. We’ve provided information about moving into, living in and leaving a retirement village. Retirement village operators should also refer to important registration requirements below.

Improved retirement village living in NSW

Retirement village laws in NSW protect more than 55,000 residents across 640 registered retirement villages.

On 30 July 2017, the NSW Government announced a four-point plan for retirement villages in NSW which includes:

  1. revising the Retirement Villages Regulation 2009, including changes that will require greater transparency around fees and charges in contracts
  2. introducing an online calculator to help prospective residents, and their families, better understand the estimated costs of living in a retirement village
  3. undertaking compliance and education operations targeting NSW retirement villages
  4. launching an inquiry into the NSW retirement village sector.

Read the media release for more information.

Read the latest on the inquiry.

Resolving disputes

Many disputes can be resolved quickly in the early stages if they are discussed openly.

First talk to your operator. Operators have their own internal dispute handling processes.

If that's not an option we can help.

Fill in the complaints form and depending on the issue, we'll either recommend mediation, using the retirement village complaint service, or going straight to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Mediation

Our free onsite mediation service is voluntary. It's an informal negotiation with a neutral (qualified) mediator to help you reach a beneficial settlement. The mediator's role is to help identify the issues in dispute and help find options that could address everyone's concerns.

If we think mediation is appropriate, we'll contact you and talk you through that process.

Frequently asked questions about mediation

What matters are best suited for mediation?

  • annual budgets and accounts
  • annual meetings including Notices
  • issues with repairs and maintenance that are the operator’s responsibility
  • alterations and additions to an individual’s lot
  • village rules
  • reduction or withdrawal of service or facilities by the operator
  • capital maintenance and replacement

What matters are not suitable for mediation?

Time limits for making an application to the Tribunal may apply.  Mediation can take some time; if the matter is urgent then you should go straight to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Check the information available about time limits on the Tribunal’s website before applying for mediation.

Other matters include:

  • some contractual issues
  • termination and vacant possession
  • payment of money and compensation
  • sale or letting of premises

Who attends?

  • All relevant people involved in the dispute should attend the session. A solicitor can be present if the other parties approve.
  • The mediator will arrange for an interpreter to attend if required.

Where will the mediation take place

  • Mediation can take place onsite at the village or at another mutually acceptable location as agreed to by the parties.

How do I prepare?

  • You should be fully prepared for the mediation session.
  • Bring any relevant plans, documents or photographs. This also includes getting your own legal or other advice before the session if you think you need to.

What happens during the mediation?

  • First, each party will have an opportunity to briefly describe the dispute and state what they are hoping to achieve from mediation.
  • Then the mediator will help the parties discuss and explore the issues, identify options and negotiate possible settlements.

What are the results?

  • When an agreement is reached, the mediator can help draft a written agreement.
  • If the issue can't be resolved by mediation, an application can be made to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

What's the cost?

  • We don't charge you anything for mediation services. Everyone is responsible for their own costs.

Complaint service

If the dispute is not suitable for mediation, you have the option of using the retirement village complaint service.

Our officer will:

  • explain the process and provide impartial advice to all parties
  • allow all parties to put forward their position
  • confirm that all relevant matters have been discussed
  • make suggestions as to the best way to finalise the complaint

The officer will not offer any legal advice or continue with the complaint unless both parties show willingness to reach an agreement.

If the dispute involves a breach to legislation, we can take disciplinary action which can include financial penalties.

The Tribunal

If the issue can't be resolved by mediation or through the complaint service, you can lodge an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The Tribunal can make enforceable orders to resolve a dispute whereas Fair Trading cannot.

If you have a matter in the Tribunal, you should attend the hearing. If you’re unable to attend in person, you can request a telephone hearing or present your case in written form.

Time limits for making an application to the Tribunal may apply.

Retirement Village Living guide

The Retirement Village Living guide provides information on moving into, living in, and leaving a Retirement Village. Residents and prospective residents seeking further information on living in a village can download a copy of the Retirement Village Living Guide (PDF, 943.67 KB).

Retirement villages register

Land being used as a retirement village must be registered with NSW Land Registry Services (NSW LRS).  Operators must notify the Registrar General in writing that the land is used as a retirement village by lodging a Request form 11RN.  The Request form must be lodged with NSW LRS before entering into any village contracts with residents.

The form and further information is available on the NSW LRS website.

Upon registration, the relevant details become part of the public register of retirement villages available on the Accommodation registers page. Prospective residents can use the register to locate a village in the area they are considering.

Useful contacts

Seniors Rights Service

Provides free, confidential advocacy, advice, education and legal services to older people in NSW. This includes advice to residents of retirement villages about retirement village contracts and other disputes. This service covers: consumer rights, human rights, social security/welfare, power of attorney and guardianship.

Tel: 9281 3600 or 1800 424 079 (country callers)

seniorsrightsservice.org.au

Retirement Village Residents Association (RVRA)

A non-profit organisation which represents the interests of residents.

Tel: 1300 787 213

www.rvra.org.au

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