Thursday, June 13, 2024

Consultation opens on retirement village sector changes

Associate Housing Minister, Barbara Edmonds says proposed changes for the retirement village sector will balance fairness for consumers ensure the sector is supported.

Ms Edmonds said retirement villages play a significant role in meeting the needs of older New Zealanders and are an important part of the nation’s housing system.

“The sector has grown substantially over the 20 years since the current legislation came into force. Over 450 retirement villages currently house 48,000 people, with numbers expected to reach over 81,000 by 2033,” she said.

“As a Government, we’re committed to ensuring safe, secure and affordable housing for older New Zealanders. And as our population ages, it’s vital we make sure the sector continues to best serve Kiwis.”

The release of the Review of the Retirement Villages Act 2003: options for change paper is the next step in the Government’s review of the Act and builds on work undertaken by the Retirement Commission.

It includes proposals around a number of issues which have concerned residents, including:

  • stopping fees after a unit is vacated or shortly after;
  • introducing a partially standardised occupation right agreement;
  • replacing the current dispute resolution scheme;
  • requiring operators to meet the direct costs of maintaining and repairing operator-owned chattels and fixtures;
  • requiring disclosure documents to include more information on transferring within a village to aged residential care;
  • introducing a mandatory timeframe for repaying a resident’s capital when they move out, and/or requiring an operator to pay interest if the repayment is not made after a certain time.

“Moving into a retirement village is a big decision and a significant event in a person’s life. It’s essential we make sure the rules guiding the Act work as well as they should,” Ms Edmonds said.

“The proposed changes strike a balance between fairness for consumers and making sure the sector is supported to meet future population demand.

“With exponential growth expected in the sector, we need to make sure it’s commercially sustainable. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to provide feedback from operators and residents, to community groups and stakeholders. 

“In announcing these proposals, I want to acknowledge the extensive work the sector and the Retirement Commission have undertaken.

“New Zealand’s housing challenges may have grown over generations but our Government is determined to address them. We are committed to ensuring everyone has a place to call home,” she said.

The consultation period is open from 2 August to 20 November 2023.

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