Catching the fish-hooks in retirement village contracts

The financial fish-hooks of moving into a retirement village are explored at free public seminars held throughout the country by CFFC's National Manager of Retirement Villages, Troy Churton. 

They are always well attended, and this week the information shared by Churton led to substantial media coverage of the issue by Stuff reporter Nikki Macdonald. Her two-page feature story, Retirement Villages: What's the catch?, led the Saturday features sections of the Dominion Post, The Press and the Waikato Times, ran online at and in regional papers such as the Timaru Herald. 

Churton hoped the coverage may raise awareness of the financial implications of retirement village contracts, including paying for a ‘license to occupy’ a unit.

For example, the occupation right agreements offered by some village companies have little financial sympathy when an occupancy ends, due to the resident passing away or having to move to more intensive rest home care. The company may not pay out the unit’s capital to the family until the unit is relicensed, which can take months in some areas, and they may demand that weekly fees continue to be paid during that time.

“Another fish-hook may be if a married couple buy into an independent-living unit, then the husband or wife needs to move into a care facility, and additional costs may apply,” says Churton.

More than 40,000 New Zealanders now live in retirement villages, with another 1750 units being built every year as demand increases with the ageing population.

CFFC monitors the industry as part of its obligations under the Retirement Villages Act 2003, with Churton overseeing a disputes process and holding public seminars. 

“The CFFC aims to ensure New Zealanders are fully informed objectively of the implications of moving into a retirement village before they do so, and have time to obtain legal advice and discuss their decision with family.”