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Retirement Villages

Retirement villages are complexes of residential units or a number of separate complexes of residential units on common land. These units are intended for residential use under a ‘retirement village scheme’.

They may be either privately owned or owned and run by not-for-profit organisations. They do not receive government funding. Retirement villages are regulated by the Retirement Villages Act 1987. The Act defines a ‘retirement village scheme’ as one that is established (predominantly), for ‘retired persons’ and ‘retired persons and their spouses’. A ‘retired person’ is defined as being aged over 55 years and no longer in full time employment.

In South Australia the Office for the Ageing (OFTA) has responsibility for the administration of the Act and provides useful information about retirement villages, including a guide for Retirement Villages residents and prospective residents.
OFTA also provides a complaints and mediation officer who assists retirement village residents who may be experiencing problems with administering authorities.

To access OFTA publications about retirement housing click on the following link fact sheets and forms.

Related pages

Search for Retirement Housing

Information for print or download (pdf)

Retirement Village Housing (this page)

Out of Stock Retirement Village Directory - Order Form ($20 + postage)

Financial and Contractual Arrangements in Retirement Villages

Occupancy Rights and Other Legal Structures in Retirement Housing

Retirement Housing Types - Definitions

To Move or Not to Move - Lifestyle Accommodation Choices

Packing Up and Moving

Who You Should Notify When You Move

What is not a retirement village?

Retirement villages are not aged care facilities (formerly known as nursing homes and hostels). These are facilities that provide various levels of supportive care and are administered and operated under the Aged Care Act 1997. An aged care assessment is required to gain entry to these facilities. All aged care facilities undergo an accreditation process to ensure quality of care and accommodation.

Retirement villages are not Supported Residential Facilities (SRFs) (formerly known as rest homes). These provide housing and some personal care to older people and people with disabilities. SRFs provide special services (such as meals, linen, cleaning, assistance with medication, showering and finances) for a contracted weekly payment.

Supported Residential Facilities are regulated by the Supported Residential Facilities Act 1992. They are privately operated and do not receive government funding. Some serviced apartments in retirement villages may also operate under this Act.

Retirement village units are not normally available on a rental basis. 

How are retirement villages organised?

Retirement villages provide, by definition, housing for people predominantly aged 55 years and over who are able to live independently. In some villages personal care and support services can be purchased for a fee.

Some villages offer independent living and serviced apartments, as well as low and high care accommodation, which means that those villages operate under three or four different government Acts.

Living in a retirement village is not the same as owning your own home or renting. Retirement villages are marketed using different legal and financial arrangements. In effect, the resident provides the retirement village with an interest free loan, which gives the resident the right to live in a unit and benefit from whatever lifestyle the village offers.

When residents leave a village they are entitled to a return on any premium that has been paid, based on the arrangements in the original resident agreement or contract. This may be current market value at the time, or the amount paid at the time of entering the unit, less any deferred fees agreed in the contract. As a general rule, the deduction of deferred fees results in the amount initially invested being significantly reduced at final settlement, even though the market value of the unit may have increased.

Legal issues

The Retirement Villages Act 1987

Outlines the rights and obligations of residents and management in a retirement village. The retirement village must offer you a residence contract outlining your rights and obligations. It is important that you understand the contract and its implications. As it is a major financial and lifestyle decision, it is advisable to get legal and financial advice before signing.

A cooling-off period of 15 business days commences from the date the residence contract is signed, giving you time to consider your decision to move into the village. Residents are entitled to a 90 day settling-in period after they move into the village. During this time a resident may decide to leave and is entitled to a full refund of their premium minus a market rental for the time the unit was occupied and payment for any village services that have been used.

Different types of housing offered by retirement villages

Resident-funded units

Resident-funded units are sold at market value. The resident does not own the unit but purchases a loan licence agreement which in effect gives the administration of the village an interest free loan and the resident a licence to reside in the village. When the unit is remarketed the administration will often retain a percentage of the sale price.

Prospective residents should have a full understanding of the way the refund is calculated, and any other costs associated with the re-licensing procedure. A weekly maintenance fee is paid, covering the services offered by the village, with the exception of general household expenses such as telephone, electricity and contents insurance.

Entry contribution units

Entry contribution units are offered by non-profit organisations. The organisation requests an entry contribution on entry, in exchange for the right to occupy the unit. Some organisations may refund a proportion or all of the premium/donation when the resident leaves the unit. Alternatively, this amount may go toward ongoing care. These financial arrangements are negotiated between the residents and the organisations when accepting the conditions of entry. The resident will also be required to pay a weekly maintenance fee.

Flexi units and serviced apartments

This type of housing is suitable for frail older people who wish to live in a supported environment where services such as laundering of linen, meals and cleaning are provided. Residents purchase a licence agreement to occupy the unit.

Serviced apartments permanent - are usually bed-sitter or small single bedroom units and the resident pays a weekly service fee in addition to the licence to occupy. Extra services such as assistance with showering and personal laundry may be provided at an additional cost.

Flexi units are usually one-bedroom units. Residents have the option of remaining independent or using the services the village offers on a user-pays basis.

Useful resources and contacts

Seniors Information Service (SIS) maintains a register of vacancies in rental, entry contribution and resident-funded independent and serviced units. Vacancy registers can be posted to you or accessed on the SIS Internet site. SIS also offers a free monthly seminar or retirement housing and/or information by phone, email or in person.

South Australian Retirement Village Resident's Association (SARVRA)
Provide advocacy and lobbying on behalf of retirement village residents; information for people considering moving into a retirement village and advice on dispute resolution procedures. Tel. 8232 0422, 1800 182 324 (SA country callers).  

Office for the Ageing (OFTA) 
In South Australia OFTA administers the Retirement Villages Act and provides information and advice to residents, residents committees, administering authorities and the public on matters referring to retirement villages; mediation and conciliation of contractual disputes and investigation of breaches of the Act. Tel. 8204 2424 or 8204 2425.

Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS)
ARAS offers a free, independent and confidential services for South Australian retirement village residents. The retirement Village Advocate can assist residents understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to their occupancy as a retirement village resident. This service provides referral, advice, support, or representation to a resident with matters relating to the Resident's Contract, the Retirement Village Act 1987, and the Retirement Village Regulations 2006. Tel. 8232 5377, 1800 700 600 (Country callers only).

The South Australian Civil Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) (taking the roles formally performed by the Residential Tenancies Tribunal)
Has the power to resolve disputes between retirement villages and residents, including breaches of the residence contract or breaches of the Act. The Tribunal cannot hear disputes between residents or any dispute which is not related to the Act/Regulations or the residence contract. Tel. 1800 723 767; email:






Seniors Information Service is supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Visit the Department of Social Services website ( for more information. Although funding for this service has been provided by the Australian Government, the material contained herein does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Australian Government.