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Code for retirement village residents backwards

Age Concern New Zealand Media Release 7 October 2008

New Code for retirement village residents a step backwards

Protection for older people through the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008, out this afternoon, is welcome and it has been a long time coming, Age Concern National President Liz Baxendine says.

"We're pleased to finally have it, but it's still one year away from taking effect and some provisions are a step backwards from the earlier Code of Practice."

The Code sets the national minimum standards that all retirement village operators must meet from 1 October 2009.

"We're calling on retirement village operators to do better than these minimum standards.

Age Concern wanted to see greater commitment to helping prevent elder abuse and neglect, and to have the Code's protections offered to all residents irrespective of their length of tenure.

"We are disappointed that the Minister has chosen not to provide better consumer protection in some areas.

"Some residents will still have to pay the full costs of having their units refurbished if they have to move out. There's still nothing to stop operators ripping a three-month-old carpet out and charging for a new one. There is a real need for clarity on the definitions of 'as new' and 'fair wear and tear'."

"Potential residents and their families should negotiate for more favourable conditions. They should also ensure that they understand fully the implications of the Occupation Right Agreement they're being asked to sign."

Liz Baxendine advises all retirement village residents and anybody considering moving into a Retirement Village to request the Code from the operator and to read it carefully, and in consultation with their legal advisor. The Code will prevail over any less favourable provisions in residents' contracts.

Age Concern New Zealand has received numerous calls from unhappy residents who feel trapped by the conditions of their contracts. The fact that 300 submissions were received may be an indication of the level of concern and discontent in retirement villages.


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