What is a retirement village?

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Legal definition of a retirement village

Not everything that looks like a retirement village is one. A development that is a 'retirement village' covered by the Retirement Villages Act 1986 is a community where:

  • most residents are 55 years or older or are retired from full-time employment (or are spouses/partners of such people)
  • residents receive 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.

If a community meets this legal definition of a retirement village, every resident is protected by the Retirement Villages Act 1986, whether they paid an ingoing contribution, or own or lease their unit.

The owner of land to be used as a retirement village 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
  • libraries
  • pools.

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
  • hostels.

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

Residential parks sometimes seem similar to retirement villages but they are not the same. People moving into a residential park:

  • do not pay 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 information and advice about your rights and responsibilities as a residential park resident from our Residential parks section.

Rental villages

This type of accommodation is marketed specifically to retired people on a full rental basis. Generally, investors buy units in a village, which they offer to residents for rental under a tenancy agreement.

The fortnightly rental is often 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 pay 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 information about your rights and responsibilities, 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.

Our role

As Victoria's consumer affairs regulator, we register retirement villages and work with their managers to ensure compliance with the Retirement Villages Act 1986.