Protection for residents in retirement villages

  • Lianne Dalziel
Senior Citizens

Protection for residents in retirement villages is the focus of measures in proposed legislation outlined by Senior Citizens Minister Lianne Dalziel today.

At a briefing on the legislation, Lianne Dalziel outlined the government’s key decisions.
“The legislation will stand alone, and will cover all villages irrespective of size. This recognises that the risks, problems and need for residents’ protection, are the same for small and large villages alike. Existing villages will be given 12 months to comply with certain key provisions.

“Villages will have to provide a comprehensive Disclosure Statement which will outline information that must be presented to intending residents, including the recommendation that people seek legal and/or financial advice before signing up to reside in a village. This is very important as many who buy occupancy in a retirement village unit do not acquire any property they can sell.

“Intending residents will have a 10 day “cooling off” period giving them an opportunity to rescind their decision to buy into a village. Every village will need to have a Code of Residents’ Rights that will outline minimum rights of residents. The Industry will also be required to comply with a Code of Practice intended to be developed by the industry and approved by the Minister. It is intended that the Code of Practice will ensure quality practices are observed in the management of villages. Sanctions and penalties, aligned with the Fair Trading Act, will be imposed for breaches of the legislation. There will also be provision for a disputes resolution process to allow disputes to be heard and resolved fairly.

“Contractual documents relating to village occupancy will need to be consistent with both Codes, and statutory supervisors will be required for every village. In addition, all retirement villages will have to register as such with the Companies Office. The Retirement Commissioner will be responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of this legislation and public education.

“It needs to be said that the numbers of villages where there are significant problems are few, but where they do occur, the impact on residents is substantial. This legislation is about roping in the ‘cowboys’.”

Lianne Dalziel said she and her Senior Citizens Unit officials with the Ministry of Social Development would continue to work closely with interest groups such as the Retirement Villages’ Association, Grey Power and Age Concern.