On this page:
Legal definition of a retirement village
Not everything that looks like a retirement village is one. By law, a retirement village is a community where:
- most residents are aged 55 years or over or are retired from full-time employment (or are spouses/partners of such people). Residents are provided with accommodation and services, other than services provided in a residential care or aged care facility, and
- at least one of the residents, as a contractual condition of entering the retirement village, paid an ingoing contribution that was not rent. It does not matter who made that payment, or whether it was a lump sum or by instalments.
When a community meets this legal definition of a retirement village, every resident is protected by the Retirement Villages Act 1986. This law applies whether you paid an ingoing contribution, or own or lease your unit.
When land is to be used as a retirement village, the landowner must lodge a ‘retirement village notice’ with the Land Titles Office. This notice is recorded on the land title, which can be checked on the Victorian Government’s Landata website.
It is illegal for anyone to offer contracts that claim to entitle a person to become a retirement village resident without lodging this notice.
Retirement village features
A retirement village provides people with independent accommodation and may include shared facilities, such as meeting rooms, a library or pool. It might also provide lifestyle services and social activities, such as organised outings, joint meals, craft, visiting doctors and allied health professionals.
Although staff in some villages have healthcare backgrounds, services in retirement villages generally do not include health care.
Retirement villages are usually run by commercial operators for profit, or by community organisations such as religious or ethnic associations.
Are retirement villages different from other retirement accommodation?
Retirement villages are a special kind of accommodation under Victorian law.
They are different from:
- residential care facilities (aged care facilities, nursing homes, hostels)
- residential parks
- rental villages.
Residential care facilities
A retirement complex often includes low-level and/or high-level aged-care services. These may be called:
- aged care or residential care facilities
- nursing homes
Access to aged care services depends on an aged care assessment, in accordance with the Commonwealth Aged Care Act 1997.
This means an aged care operator cannot keep places free for residents from a specific retirement village, even if it is on the same site or in the same building as the aged care facility.
When moving from a retirement village into an aged care facility, you may have to end your contract with the retirement village and pay any associated fees. For more information about these costs, view our Leaving a retirement village page.
Residential parks sometimes seem similar to retirement villages but they are not the same. People moving into a residential park:
- do not make an ingoing contribution
- buy their own prefabricated dwelling and rent the site.
People living in residential parks are covered under the caravan parks and moveable dwellings provisions of the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act 1997, provided at least one dwelling in the park meets the legal definition of a moveable dwelling.
You can get free information and advice about your rights and responsibilities as a residential park resident from our Renting section.
This type of accommodation is marketed specifically to retired people on a rental basis. Generally, investors buy units in a village, which they offer to residents for rental under a tenancy agreement.
The fortnightly rental is linked to a resident’s age pension and rent assistance – usually 85 per cent of the age pension and 100 per cent of rent assistance.
Rental villages residents do not make an ingoing contribution as it is defined under the Retirement Villages Act 1986. The rental village is not a retirement village by law.
If you live in a rental village, the law that applies is the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. For more advice about your rights and responsibilitie, view our Renting section.
Is buying into a retirement village a good investment?
Buying into a retirement village is not the same as buying an investment property.
You may face substantial costs when you leave a village. Buying into a retirement village is a lifestyle decision, not an investment to make money.
Retirement villages register
All Victorian retirement villages must list on the register.
Check the register to find out whether:
- the place you are considering is a retirement village
- a retirement village has exemptions from any or all of Victoria’s retirement villages laws.
Organisations that can help you choose retirement accommodation
If you want help to work out the right kind of retirement accommodation for you, these organisations may be able to assist:
Housing for the Aged Action Group
This independent, government-funded group supports older people with accommodation matters. It provides information on housing options for older people who need to find better, more affordable and secure accommodation.
You can contact the group by:
Seniors Information Victoria
This government-funded organisation provides free information to older Victorians about housing options, from independent living to residential care. Telephone 1300 135 090.
Last updated: 11/05/2013