Top five things to consider when moving into a Retirement Village 

A retirement village is a community-style residential development offering accommodation, facilities and services to people from retirement age onwards.

There are many types of arrangements which should be carefully explored before making your move to retirement-village living.

Following is a brief overview of the different arrangements for retirement village living and our top five tips when considering your move.

Retirement village arrangements

Buying into a retirement village does not necessarily result in outright ownership of the property. Whilst many strata or community developments facilitate this, most retirement village arrangements are either loan-licence or leasing arrangements. The basic elements of retirement village arrangements include:

  • the residence contract (which may include an exit fee)
  • a right to reside in return for an ingoing contribution; and
  • a right to receive services on payment of recurrent charges.

Following are our top five tips when considering your retirement village move.

What do you want to achieve? 

When planning your move, consider your goals and objectives in light of your personal circumstances such as your age, health, family arrangements (who and how close they are) and your personality (whether you are social or prefer solitude).

If you are recently retired, independent and in good health, you might be looking towards accommodation that is spacious, includes a garden, and is set in a village offering various facilities and activities. If you are more sedate, you won’t want to be paying for the upkeep of golf courses, tennis courts and a swimming pool if these activities do not interest you.

Also consider whether the care services offered will be sufficient to support you for the years to come. The availability of health and nursing services, meal preparation and assistance with cleaning and other domestic duties are important factors.

Remember, entry into a retirement village does not result in an automatic subsequent entitlement to aged care services. Aged care encompasses a wider concept of care than retirement villages and is governed by comprehensive Commonwealth legislation.

Once you have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve, consider the retirement village’s location, the proximity of entertainment, shopping and health services, the quality of buildings, care services and available facilities.

What will ‘village life’ be like?

Your day-to-day retirement living will be influenced by the managing body and rules setting out the rights and obligations of residents.

The rules include matters concerning the keeping of pets, whether friends and family can stay over, car parking arrangements, maintenance of buildings, common areas and gardens, whether social activities are arranged and use of recreational facilities such as libraries, communal dining areas, etc.

Some retirement villages are operated by private enterprises whilst some are run by the community, churches or charitable organisations. This may impact upon the daily ‘vibe’ of the village and the types of activities arranged.

Accommodation and services and the associated village rules can vary significantly between villages - it is important to get the right fit for your lifestyle.

Understand your legal rights and obligations

It is important to understand the type of arrangement you are entering, whether it be an outright purchase, loan-licence or leasehold arrangement.

Always have your documents reviewed and explained by an experienced lawyer. It may be helpful to take a family member or friend with you when meeting your lawyer to discuss issues raised during the meeting, and help to recall matters afterwards for follow up.

Recent changes to legislation have increased the amount of detail Village operators and agents should provide regarding village fees, amenities and services before a contract is signed. Contracts should set out the terms and conditions pertaining to the resident’s right to occupy the premises, the permitted use of common facilities and types of services available which may include assisted living or aged care.

Consider the financial implications

It is important to be aware that retirement villages are not designed to be financially profitable and should not be compared to real estate generally.

Fees and charges include an ingoing contribution, general services charges, personal services charges and exit fees. Potential residents should ask whether maintenance costs are covered in regular payments or if these are additional and check under what circumstances deposits are refundable.

Meeting with your financial advisor is recommended if you need to plan or restructure your financial affairs. You will need to ensure you completely understand your obligations and determine the most effective financial strategy for your circumstances.

Regulation and reputation

Retirement villages in Queensland are regulated by the Retirement Villages Act 1999. The Department of Housing and Public Works administers such laws including registration of retirement villages. 

Retirement village legislation provides important protection for people considering retirement village living – being aware of your rights and seeking good advice will help you to make a careful and well-informed choice.

Proposed residents can request information about the services offered and details regarding financial arrangements and fees, budgets, sample contracts, site layout and plans.

Speaking to other residents may assist you to learn more about the retirement village’s reputation and how it is managed.

Summary

Retirement villages provide an opportunity for older residents to live in maintenance-free accommodation in a secure community with access to services and facilities. Villages vary in style, quality, availability of services, legal arrangements and cost.

Potential residents should shop around, gather as much information as possible and not be pressured into signing a contract.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (07) 5443 4866 or email kwaddington@gwlaw.com.au.

Ken Waddington

Partner

(07) 5443 4866

kwaddington@gwlaw.com.au

 

 

Nicole Downs

Solicitor

(07) 5443 4866

ndowns@gwlaw.com.au

 

 

 

If you need help, or have a question get in touch with us today.