Changes needed for retirement village rules – New Zealand Herald

ome retirement villages need to improve the way they communicate with residents, as well as ensuring that potential residents understand exactly what they are signing up for, according to Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan.

In a report released today she recommends changes to the 2003 Retirement Villages Act as some parts of it were problematic and many of operators and residents’ difficulties arose because of poor implementation.

While it would be worthwhile reviewing the Act, there was nothing stopping the industry addressing problems on its own, she said.

“Most retirement village operators communicate really well and implement the Act properly. Their residents are very happy and do feel secure. But in villages where the Act isn’t implemented well, the opposite can be true.”

Fee increases, reductions in services, failure to provide planned amenities and a lack of consultation over changes in the operation or ownership of the villages were among their concerns, she said.

Some residents were unclear about the meaning and implication of their contract.

“Clear communication is vital in helping give residents and their families greater peace of mind,” she said.

Recommendations in the report include:
* Develop and implement consultation guidelines for both operators and residents.
* clarify the scope of the Statutory Supervisor role.
* documents need to be comparable between retirement villages and written in plain English.

Among other suggestions are that retirement villages should be independently rated on their financial, service, amenity and procedural performance.

There should also be simpler, more easily understood paperwork and an independent advice service for people entering retirement villages as well as a dispute resolution service for complaints.

The rapidly expanding retirement village industry cares for around 300,000 people, or 5 percent of New Zealanders aged 65 years and over. There are around 179 village operators running 330 registered retirement villages but the Retirement Villages Association forecasts between 800 and 1200 dwellings will need to be built each year to meet rising demand.