Resources for retirement village residents

Papakāinga Ahungarua | Retirement Villages

Retirement villages are operated in different ways, and what they offer varies. There are a range of resources available to help you navigate living in a village. This includes information on the legal protections for residents, deciphering tricky key terms, advice on setting up a residents’ committee, transferring to residential care, as well as pertinent information relating to COVID-19 and village matters.

The resources in this section are mainly for those who already live in a retirement village. If you are thinking about moving into a retirement village and want to know more, see Sorted’s guide to choosing a retirement village and you can also download the ‘Thinking of Living in a Retirement Village’ booklet. There are a number of stakeholders in the retirement villages industry and we have provided an overview of the industry here, where you can find links to information about stakeholders such as the Retirement Villages Residents Association and the Retirement Villages Association.

Legislative protections for retirement village residents

The primary purpose of the Retirement Villages Act 2003 is to protect the interests of residents and intending residents. It achieves this by:

  • Compulsory registration of each retirement village
  • Appointment of a statutory supervisor to oversee the operations of each registered retirement village are lawful
  • Registration of a memorial against the title to all of the retirement village land, ensuring the village cannot be wound up without consent of the residents
  • Requiring the operator and a resident to enter into a detailed occupation right agreement spelling out each party's rights and obligations
  • Requiring a detailed disclosure regime and mandatory independent legal advice for all intending residents before they sign an occupation right agreement agreeing to become residents
  • Providing a Code of Practice establishing minimum operating standards for every village
  • Providing a Code of Residents' Rights with minimum rights of every resident in a village
  • Establishing an extensive two-tiered complaints and disputes resolution procedure.

More details about the Act, Regulations and Codes are available here.

Disclosure documents

Residents will have been required to discuss four key disclosure documents with a lawyer who is experienced with current retirement village practice before signing up to become a resident.

The key documents are:

  • Disclosure statement
  • Occupation right agreement
  • Code of Practice
  • Code of Residents' Rights

From time-to-time operators amend their standard occupation right agreement or disclosure statement. It is possible a new resident will have some terms in its documents different from residents who have been in the village a lot longer.

You can see the most recent amended documents for a village by searching the Retirement Villages Registry.

Retirement Villages Registry

The Companies Office website provides a registry of all registered retirement villages allowing you to search for the name of your village and access recently registered documents relating to it including its annual return.

  • Start your search here.
  • Click 'Search the Retirement Villages Register', then 'Other Registers search'.
  • Tick the retirement village registry then enter a word from the name of the village.
  • If the name of the village appears you can click on it to inspect all the recently registered documents relating to that village including its annual return.

If you are having difficulty searching the registry speak with a call centre advisor on our retirement villages information line on 0800 268 269. The operator can show you proof the village is registered and has not had its registration suspended or cancelled.

If the village is a member of the Retirement Villages Association, ask if it has provisional membership or fully accredited membership. The Association only accepts members who satisfy its audit and accreditation requirements, which includes the need to be lawfully registered under the Retirement Villages Act 2003.

Key terms

If you find your disclosure documents challenging to read, you may be able to get a ‘key terms’ disclosure summary. Retirement Village Association’s member-operators have these summaries available to help people understand the main financial terms of the disclosure statement and occupation right agreement.

The content of each term in the template will differ from village to village but explain aspects of the agreement such as capital gains/losses, fees, transferring within the village and care options.

You can download an example of a 'key terms' disclosure summary here.

Residents’ Committee Handbook

If you are interested in establishing a residents’ committee or want to know a bit more about how they operate. The Residents’ Committee Handbook provides key information on setting these up and how to conduct meetings.

Download the handbook here.

What happens if a retirement village or unit is damaged?

In the event of something happening which damages or destroys your unit and the village you live in, it’s important to know where the responsibility lies if the worst does happen.

Have a look at this flowchart and work out where your situation fits and refer to the Code of Practice (specifically clauses 22, 47 and 54) for more details.

Liquor licensing in retirement villages

Retirement villages require some form of liquor license to sell and supply alcohol and if you are looking at doing the same for an event or other social activity you will also need a license. You can apply for a special licence, on-licence, or incorporate a club or society. Some villages may allow you to BYO alcohol when you meet meaning you will not need a licence.

More information around liquor licensing is available here.


Some retirement village operators offer a broadband connection plan specifically negotiated for their village residents. It’s worth doing a bit of research because there may be better options for you if you arrange your own connection instead of going with the village’s plan.

Here's some more information on working out what you might need.

Complaints and disputes

In the event you have an issue and want to make a complaint there is a detailed process under The Retirement Villages Act 2003 Part 4 and the Retirement Villages (Disputes Panel) Regulations 2006 for formally resolving disputes. There are informal and formal options available.

More information on complaints and disputes is available here.


There is a range of important information relating to how villages can operate during COVID-19 along with guidelines around holding meetings.

The Retirement Villages Association (RVA) has also issued guidance to its members and has developed guides for residents and their families about Covid-19 restrictions for retirement villages.

The Registrar of Retirement Villages and the Retirement Commissioner have issued a practice note to provide best practice guidelines for holding meetings during COVID-19.

Transferring to care

There are additional cost implications if you or your spouse need home support services, or are needs-assessed for residential care while you are living in a retirement village. While you may have care facilities located within your village, these are separate operations from retirement villages and subject to different legislative requirements. Residential care is for people with high dependency needs who have been needs-assessed as requiring long term care. Residential care is the care provided in a rest home, private hospital or dementia facility.

Care pathways for retirement village residents

There will be different types of care for different types of situations. This flowchart helps explain the care pathway options available.

This video has more information about different care options and cost implications:

Pathways to Care: Retirement Villages

Pathways to Care: Retirement Villages

Finding a rest home

Many retirement villages have care facilities co-located on their sites which might include rest home level care, hospital level care or dementia level care.

Visit the Ministry of Health for information finding local rest homes and you can download recent reports.

Disclosure guidelines for transfer to care in a retirement village

Retirement villages offering care facilities need to make certain disclosures about the process and financial implications of moving into these facilities. Make sure you are aware of the various disclosures relating to moving into a rest home or hospital care institution in your retirement village, which, if applicable, will be in your Occupation Right Agreement.

The Retirement Village Association has developed guidelines for their members for minimum disclosures about transfer to care in a retirement village. These guidelines can help you understand the types of questions you may want to ask about transferring to care in your own retirement village.

The costs of aged care facilities

There are a variety of costs associated with accessing care. Depending on your situation you may be able to apply for help with payment through the Residential Care Subsidy or loan scheme, or you may have to pay fees privately. Many care rooms offered by retirement village operators are premium level rooms and premium room fees apply. There is no publicly funded support for premium room fees or additional services, so you will need to cover these costs privately.

Seniorline is a national information service to help older people and their whanau navigate the health system and they have information on their website about the cost of care.

You can also call Seniorline on 0800 725 463.

Not all care facilities in retirement villages are created equal. Extra costs can range from $5 to $100 a day. Read the contract carefully explains Ruth Schumann.

The cost of aged care facilities: Ruth Schumann

The cost of aged care facilities: Ruth Schumann

Retirement village helpline

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission has a retirement village helpline supporting those living in retirement villages.

  • 0800 268 269
  • Hours: 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday