Retirement Commissioner welcomes proposed improvements to the Retirement Villages Act 2003, encourages feedback

Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson is calling on people to submit their views on the Review of the Retirement Villages Act 2003, following the Government’s release today of a discussion paper detailing options for change.

“I am really pleased to see the review progress to this consultation phase. The proposed changes tabled in the discussion document address many of the issues we have raised, along with important others,” she says.

“The sector provides important and valued housing options for some older New Zealanders and is by no means broken. I acknowledge recent voluntary changes made by the industry itself. But the Act has not been reviewed in 20 years: it’s important for residents, their families and operators that sector-wide best practice is clearly set out in legislation. I encourage all interested parties to submit their feedback on the proposals put forward.”

The discussion paper is calling for feedback on a raft of proposals relating to the three phases of retirement living: moving in, living in and moving out. This spans everything from plain language disclosure statements, partially standardised occupation right agreements, replacing the current complaints and disputes scheme, right through to introducing mandatory timeframes for repayment of capital sums after units have been vacated.

Submissions can be made to Te Tūāpapa Kura Kainga – Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, which is leading the review work.

The options paper comes on the heels of the Retirement Commission’s latest investigation into residents’ experiences in moving out of, or within, a retirement village.

  • Research found that the experience can be quite varied, with some residents feeling informed and supported, while others feeling rushed and taken advantage of.
  • A lack of understanding of how the buying and selling of retirement village accommodation differs from the wider residential real estate market can lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction among both residents and whānau.
  • Many residents and whānau expect a duty of care from a retirement village to be also applied throughout the exit process, and their interpretation and expectation of this duty of care greatly affected their exit experience.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission proposed a review of retirement village legislation in December 2020 and released a white paper setting out issues around the retirement villages framework. The need was confirmed in June 2021 after public consultation on the white paper, in which 3,300 submissions were received. The Commission provided a summary and recommendations report to Government.

The Retirement Commissioner has statutory obligations under the Act to monitor the framework’s effectiveness.

In the Commission white paper, Wrightson said the legislation was at risk of becoming outdated and unfit for purpose. Key concerns were raised about the resale process, weekly fees charged after a resident vacates a unit, flaws in an overly complicated complaints system, confusing documentation and the tricky interface between village and care facilities.

“Retirement villages remain an attractive choice for some older New Zealanders, providing a sense of community and a quality option for those who wish to downsize,” says the Retirement Commissioner.

“This review is an opportunity to assess what updates to the legislation are needed, for both residents and retirement village operators.”


Notes to editors

The full discussion document is available here.

Submissions can be made here.

Retirement Commission’s latest investigation is here.

Media contacts 

For more information, or to arrange interviews contact: 

Anika Forsman | Director Stakeholder Relations 

+64 21 246 4302