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If you’re thinking about moving into a retirement village, but are not sure what you should look for, this booklet will help. There are many issues to consider and questions to ask. The checklist at the back of this booklet should assist you in making your final decision. However, you should consult your legal and financial advisors to get specific information in relation to your individual situation.
Rights and obligations relating to retirement villages are set out in the following legislation:
Copies of the legislation may be purchased from the State Law Publisher (phone: 6552 6000) or can be viewed and downloaded from the Parliamentary Counsel's Office website www.legislation.wa.gov.au
A retirement village is a complex of residential premises specifically designed or geared for people who no longer work and is restricted to those over 55 years of age.
You will need to make a payment known as a ‘premium’ to secure the right to live in the village. This will usually be a one-off or up-front payment that confers a right to occupy premises, or involves the purchase of a lot and residential premises in the retirement village.
As well as paying a premium, you will likely be required to sign a residence contract or agreement. This most often is a standard form agreement drafted by the owner or administering body of the village.
You should be aware that as well as the premium there may also be body corporate fees and other various ongoing fees to cover village operation costs and support services.
Residents do not have an automatic right of transfer to any Commonwealth funded residential aged care facility or eligibility for community care services. The administering body of a retirement village cannot guarantee any proposed aged care facility will actually be made available or any existing aged care facility will continue to be made available.
Entry to these facilities and services is subject to eligibility and assessment requirements administered by the Commonwealth and/or State Government, and is not regulated by the Act.
Retirement villages vary greatly. Some provide a full range of special purpose accommodation from self-care units to serviced units. A range of other amenities and services may also be provided such as communal rooms, swimming pools, meals, laundry and cleaning.
An alternative arrangement simply provides accommodation with no on-site support, amenities or services.
It is important that you think about your future needs as well as your current lifestyle. For instance, stairs may become a problem, doorways might be too narrow for wheelchairs, an absence of public transport could become a major drawback if you reach a stage where you are no longer able to drive.
Features like 24-hour call buttons for medical and emergency assistance which may seem unnecessary now may be become a necessity in years to come.
Take a moment to consider the following questions. They may help you to decide whether to move into a retirement village. The questions may also help you to decide whether a particular village is right for you.
Now that you have decided to move into a retirement village, here are a few things to consider before you sign a contract.
You should make yourself aware of the financial arrangements for the village of your choice. Information about financial arrangements must be provided by the village administering body before you sign a contract.
Contracts are legally binding documents. It is important to take the time to understand the contract and be sure you agree to all the terms and conditions. You should check that any verbal agreements or claims made by salespeople are written into the contract. If you are unsure about any of the terms and conditions in the contract, you should contact your solicitor to get legal advice before signing the contract.
Before you sign a contract to reside in a retirement village, the administering body of the retirement village is required by law to provide you with the following information:
In answering the questions, the owner/operator of a retirement village is required to disclose such things as:
- the costs payable to enter the village;
- all ongoing charges or fees payable by the residents and the method of determining any variation;
- any additional or optional services provided and their respective cost;
- details of costs associated with moving to and living in alternative accommodation within the village; and
- a clear explanation of any refund entitlement (including any deductions from this amount) upon termination of a residence contract.
The administering body of the retirement village should provide all of this information to you at least ten working days before you sign any contract. You should use the information provided by the administering body of the retirement village to help you compare villages and work out the likely costs of your preferred choice. The information should also help you decide if a village will suit your lifestyle.
When you sign a contract with a retirement village but have not yet taken up residence, there will be a ‘cooling off’ period of seven working days from the date the contract is signed. The contract will not become binding until those seven working days have passed.
If the administering body of the village has not given you all the required information at least ten working days before you sign the contract, the cooling off period will be extended to 17 working days after the day on which you do receive the information, otherwise the cooling off period is 7 working days after the date of the residence contract.
During the cooling off period, you can change your mind - at no cost to you. But, the cooling off period doesn’t apply if you move into the village before the 7 (or 17) day period has expired.
If you decide to withdraw from the contract within the cooling-off period, you must give notice in writing to all other parties to the contract. You should also advise other interested parties such as your bank manager or real estate agent.
If you pay a deposit on your accommodation, the law says this money must be held in trust (in a bank account or invested as trust funds under the Trustees Act 1962) until:
Before you sign, check your contract for details about how much of your deposit will be refunded if you change your mind after the cooling off period has expired.
Your residence or service contract should include the following information:
If the village is still under construction, the contract must contain plans showing the location, floor plan and significant dimensions of your intended accommodation, and any facilities allocated to you. You may also request a map showing all buildings and grounds that form, or will form, the communal property.
For further information refer to our Where to get help - Retirement village information page
Consumer Protection, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
Phone: 1300 304 054