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Proposed Changes to Retirement Village Regulations

In brief
  • The Government is set to review the Retirement Villages Act 2003 after 20 years. 
  • Numbers of retirees are projected to be more than 81,000 people by 2033 – up from around 48,000 today. 
  • The proposals generally call for more regulation, and tip things in favour of the residents, but not excessively.

Changes to retirement home legislation come after 20 years

The landscape of retirement villages in New Zealand is poised for a significant change as the Government considers amendments to the Retirement Villages Act.

Barbara Edmonds, Associate Minister of Housing, has announced a comprehensive review of the existing regulations to better address the evolving needs of the sector, the rapidly ageing population, and the growing number of retirees seeking secure and affordable housing options.

Review of the Retirement Villages Act 2003: Options for change comes at a time when the retirement village sector has experienced substantial growth over the past two decades. The industry has changed dramatically since the current legislation was implemented 20 years ago. 

Proposed Changes to Retirement Village Regulations - Centrist
Suggested reforms tip the scale a little more in favour of retirees residing in retirement villages.

Presently, over 450 retirement villages accommodate around 48,000 residents. This number is expected to increase dramatically to over 81,000 by 2033. The importance of this sector as our elderly population increases has led the Government to take steps to ensure that consumer protections and industry sustainability remain at the forefront of retirement village operation practices.

Documents released for public consideration

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga) has released a discussion document outlining a series of options for change aimed at enhancing the Government’s view of fairness and transparency within the retirement village sector.

These proposals address issues that have garnered attention from various stakeholders, including residents, operators, and community groups. 

Broadly, the proposal indicates  the Government should implement several reforms in the sector. These relate to communications, dispute resolution and compulsory financial practices. In general, these terms are for more regulation, and tip things to the favour of the residents, but not excessively.

While there is an obligatory nod to honouring Te Tiriti, the document concludes that “many of the solutions to address Māori housing needs for older people sit outside the scope of this review”. The review states that’s because there are relatively few numbers of Māori retirees living in retirement villages. It adds most live in rented homes and are less likely to have either the means or reach the required age of entry (75) for a retirement village.

Industry not against proposals, but steps have already been taken in that direction

The proposals have been met with largely positive responses from various stakeholders and the media.

The Retirement Village Residents Association has been actively advocating for change and welcomes focus on ending certain practices that have caused financial stress for retirees and their families. 

Retirement village owners also view the proposed amendments as a positive step forward. John Collyns, the executive director of the Retirement Villages Association (RVA), acknowledges that many of the substantial reforms proposed in the discussion paper align with the industry’s voluntary efforts to improve transparency and resident satisfaction.

The proposal is open for public submissions until the 20th of November.

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