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23 February 2021

Media release: Review of the Retirement Villages Act is overdue

Consumer NZ is backing recommendations by the Retirement Commissioner to review the Retirement Villages Act and ensure better protection for residents.

Ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for feedback, Consumer NZ has made a submission on the retirement villages White Paper released by the commissioner’s office.

Consumer NZ’s submission outlines problems it uncovered in a recent review of retirement village contracts. This review found contract terms that the organisation considers privilege village operators and risk leaving residents unfairly out of pocket.

Terms included those that:

  • make residents responsible for maintenance of, and repairs to, the village’s chattels, including the appliances in their unit
  • deny residents the opportunity to benefit from any capital gain when their occupation licence is sold, despite being required to contribute to the property’s upkeep
  • result in residents being charged penalty interest if they make any payments a few days late, while the village retains discretion to decide whether it will pay interest on money owed to residents
  • attempt to exempt the village from liability for damage that the village may cause to the residents’ possessions
  • give the village wide-ranging discretion to decide what residents can and can’t do, including whether they can have guests to stay, make improvements to their unit and raise reasonable objections to village developments.

A Consumer NZ survey of 1680 village residents found 63 percent were unhappy their agreement didn't allow them to get any capital gains when their unit was sold. The survey also found low satisfaction among respondents with the fairness and readability of village contracts.

Consumer NZ believes a review of retirement villages legislation is needed to ensure residents are treated fairly. The vulnerability of many consumers living in retirement villages and the potential for significant financial harm from unfair terms provide strong grounds for reviewing the current framework.

Consumer NZ’s review of retirement village contracts was supported by a grant from The New Zealand Law Foundation.

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