The Department of Building and Housing and the Retirement Commission are currently seeking views on the proposed Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 which outlines how retirement villages work and protects consumer rights. The public consultation period runs until 15 August 2008.
The proposed Code of Practice ensures retirement villages are managed fairly in the interests of both residents and operators. The proposed Code of Practice is an operating manual covering:
• Staffing of retirement villages
• Safety and personal security of residents
• Fire protection and emergency management
• Transfer of residents with retirement villages
• Meetings of residents with operator and resident involvement
• Complaints facility
• Maintenance and upgrading
• Termination of an occupation right agreement
• Communication with residents
The proposed Code of Practice works alongside the Retirement Villages Act 2003 and complements the Code of Residents’ Rights to ensure consumer protection is the basis of the minimum standards that all retirement village operators must meet.
For intending residents, it outlines the minimum requirements they can expect to receive in a retirement village reflected in their contract known as an occupation right agreement. The proposed Code of Practice also covers existing residents and limits the number of existing contracts that can be over-ridden by the Code of Practice, where operators require residents to pay for the refurbishment of the residential unit.
Suzanne Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive, Sector Policy at the Department of Building and Housing, says existing and intending residents should take the opportunity to comment on the proposed Code of Practice.
“The proposed Code of Practice protects the rights of residents, and intending residents. This is important for the residents and for their families because it gives everyone peace of mind.”
Operators of retirement villages will have specific responsibilities from the proposed Code of Practice which will help make retirement villages run more efficiently.
The proposed Code of Practice balances consumer protection with the business needs of operators, whether they are large corporate villages or small religious, welfare and charitable villages
An earlier Code of Practice was ruled invalid by the High Court in December last year following an application for a judicial review by the Retirement Villages Association of New Zealand Inc.
Ms Townsend says the government has worked hard to address the issues that arose from the judicial review. The Department of Building and Housing has addressed the issue of financial settlement at the termination of contract. Most contracts are unaffected and existing contracts should be honoured by both parties. No resident will be worse off as a result of this proposed Code of Practice.
“The proposed Code of Practice is a fundamentally sound document – it’s good for residents, operators, intending new residents, their families and employees. It provides rights and places obligations on both parties helping to make good communities,” says Ms Townsend.
“I would urge anyone who has an interest in either running a retirement village or living in one to take the opportunity to read the proposed Code of Practice and take part in the consultation.”
The nine-week consultation period with the Retirement Commission and the Department of Building and Housing began on Monday, 16 June and closes Friday, 15 August 2008.
Getting a copy of the proposed Code of Practice
You can get copies of the proposed Code of Practice from the Department of Building and Housing. To receive a free copy call 0800 836 262 or go to the Department of Building & Housing site, or the Retirement Commission site.
Submissions should be addressed to:
Department of Building and Housing
PO Box 10729
Fax: (04) 494 0290
PO Box 12-148
Fax: (04) 499 7397