Here are the top 5 considerations when reading through your retirement village contract:
1. Knowledge is Power – Get All the Information You Need
As a buyer you are legally entitled to a lot of information about the retirement village and the operator, make sure you get all the detail you need in order to make an informed decision. In addition to the Village Comparison Document and Prospective Costs Document, you are entitled to see the retirement village’s operational documents. This includes, amongst other things, development plans, financial statements, examples of contracts other residents have entered into (including a copy of any applicable lease or license document), and the village dispute resolution process. Your solicitor will be able to assist you in obtaining the village operational documents and any other information you need or are entitled to receive.
2. Money Matters – Understand the Costs of Entry, Day to Day Living and Exiting the Village
Village operators are required by law to provide you with a Prospective Costs Document that sets out the costs of entering the retirement village, the ongoing costs of living in the village and the estimated costs you will pay when leaving the village. Ensure that you are clear on how moving into a retirement village will impact your financial position, not just in respect of the buy-in cost, but also the cost of day to day living and the fees and charges you will pay when you leave the village. Take a look at our note on retirement village expenses for more detail.
3. By-laws and Rules – Understand Your Rights and Obligations
For many retirees the increased rules and restrictions that come with living in an apartment or managed community can involve a considerable adjustment. Whether your right to reside in a retirement village is through a lease, license or freehold, there will be a set of by-laws or village rules that will set out most of the relevant rights and obligations owed by the resident and the village operator. Pets, frequency and duration of visitors, renovations and alterations, smoking, playing musical instruments, car parking, maintaining the outside appearance of the unit, gardens, etc. are all typically covered by the village by-laws or contained in the lease or license. Read these by-laws and rules carefully and seek advice if necessary and consider how these rules will impact you.
4. Operator and Retirement Village Manager
Retirement village operators play a fundamental role in the residential experience. Doing some homework on the village operator before moving in can help avoid the costly process of changing villages later on if you discover that you don’t like the people who run your retirement village. Have regard to the operator’s reputation in the market and whether they are accredited. It is worth speaking to current residents, but for a more candid view visit retiree and resident Facebook groups and internet forums.
Try to get a sense of the morale of the support staff by watching how they interact with other residents and each other. If the operator is a good employer it is likely they will be easier to deal with as a resident. Finally, the size of the village operator can be relevant as well; big operators will have access to better resources while senior management may be more accessible with smaller operators. There are no hard and fast rules on how to assess a village operator but take the time to get to know the operator of your prospective retirement village.
5. The Long Game: Can the Village Accommodate Your Needs as You Age?
All going well you will be able to enjoy your new home for many years. However, part of that time is likely to entail changing levels of medical services and support. It is important therefore to consider the services that are available and how these may be increased as time goes by. Sometimes it is as simple as whether the doorways and bathroom facilities in your unit are wide enough for a wheel chair. The retirement village operator will not be able to guarantee you a place in residential aged care, even if the facility is co-located with the village and run by an affiliate of the village operator.