If you’re living in a retirement village, you might find yourself confronting the unwelcome situation of a redevelopment.

While this is good in the long run – nicer units and better facilities! – in the short term, it can be a real pain to live with, especially if you have to move out.

This week, our friends at the NSW Retirement Village Residents Association (RVRA) have a look at your rights during a village redevelopment.

Before a village operator applies to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to terminate a resident’s contract due to redevelopment of their retirement village, section 136 of the Retirement Villages Act 1999 requires that the operator:

  • gives residents at least 12 month’s written notice of the intention;

  • has a development consent and any other approvals necessary in place; and

  • obtains alternative accommodation for residents.

The alternative accommodation must be of a similar standard and cost to the former residence. 

However, many residents who are required to move find that such accommodation is offered far from their family, social contacts and medical arrangements – and this is not adequately covered in the Act.

Advocating for a better outcome

While the Act says this replacement accommodation “reasonably ought to be acceptable to the resident”, this is at best vague, and begs the question “reasonably acceptable by whom?”  

This question is being asked on calls to the RVRA members’ Enquiry line with increasing frequency as the stock of existing Retirement Villages ages.

The news that their village is to be redeveloped may severely affect residents, many of whom are elderly, in poor health or suffering from dementia and do not understand what is going on – they ask, “surely management cannot move us away from our homes and families?”

The time between the announcement of relocation and its actual execution may be drawn out, resulting in a loss of potential new residents and stress for the remaining residents, particularly those wanting to exit the village to aged care or other accommodation.

This is why the RVRA is advocating for the Act to take residents’ social networks into consideration when they need to be relocated, as well as offer more protections to residents when older villages are redeveloped.

For more information on what we can do for NSW retirement village residents, visit the RVRA website.