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Report recommends changes to Retirement Villages Act

Media release

20 July 2011

Report recommends changes to Retirement Villages Act

Some Retirement Village operators need to improve the way they communicate with their residents, as well as ensuring that potential residents understand exactly what they are signing up for, according to a report released today by Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan.

This year the Commissioner’s Retirement Villages Act 2003 Monitoring Project examined the Act from the perspective of retirement village residents. Residents were asked about how well they understood the Act and its implementation.

Ms Crossan says the report found that often residents move to retirement villages primarily for the security they offer, yet they can become anxious about the future of their villages and how future changes may affect them.

“Most retirement village operators communicate really well and implement the Act properly. Their residents are very happy and do feel secure. But in villages where the Act isn’t implemented well, the opposite can be true.”

Ms Crossan says among the concerns for some residents were fee increases, reductions in services, failure to provide planned amenities and a lack of consultation over changes in the operation or ownership of the villages.

“While there is a requirement for intending residents to get legal advice before they sign up, the report found that some residents were unclear about the meaning and implication of their contract.

“Clear communication is vital in helping give residents and their families greater peace of mind,” she says.

Key recommendations supported by the Retirement Commissioner include:

• Develop and implement guidelines for consultation for both operators and residents.

• Clarify the scope of the Statutory Supervisor role and amend the appointment and commissioning of those services.

• Key documents need to be comparable between retirement villages and written in plain English.

• Develop in consultation with operators and residents an industry standard and best practice for complaints, mediation and disputes procedures which includes recording all complaints.

• Review the interface between the Act and other tenure legislation to provide guidance particularly for those in unit titles.

The report is part of a five-year monitoring project by the Retirement Commissioner who is required to monitor the effects of the Retirement Villages Act, the regulations and the Code of Practice. The Commissioner will be discussing these recommendations with the Minister of Building and Construction.

The report is online at www.retirement.org.nz/monitoring.


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