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Standard fact sheet.
Large print fact sheet.

Village contracts 

After you have carefully considered the disclosure documents, and have made the decision to move into a retirement village, you will need to sign a contract with the village operator.

The costs set out in the contract may be difficult to understand as there are a wide range of fees and charges to consider. Before entering into a contract, you should work out the estimated costs of living in a retirement village. Use the NSW Fair Trading Retirement Village Calculator to get an estimate of the entry fees, ongoing fees and exit fees you might expect to pay.

Take time to read the contract 

The operator must give you (or a person acting on your behalf) a completed copy of the village contract that you will need to sign and you must have this copy at least 14 days before you sign. Use this time to carefully read the contract and discuss it with your family or friends. Check that details of any promised services or facilities, or any other promise made by the operator or their employee or agent, are included in the contract. If there is something in your contract that you don’t understand, ask the operator to explain it. Consider having the contract looked at by an independent lawyer, accountant or financial adviser. Take as long as you need to consider the contract before signing it.

The operator must give you a copy of the signed contract within 14 days after it is entered into. Keep this somewhere safe along with your disclosure documents.

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What the contract must include 

For contracts signed on or after 1 October 2013, the contract must follow the standard format that is prescribed under the retirement village laws. While there will be some differences depending on the type of arrangements in place in your particular village, most contracts will look similar and the terms will be in the same order.

The important details of the village and the contract are at the front, followed by the financial details and then the general terms.

The operator may also attach additional terms at the back. Make sure to read these carefully. The additional terms must be consistent with the standard contract terms and the retirement village laws.

Older contracts are not in the standard format, but still need to include all the relevant information required by the retirement village laws at the time they were signed.

The following documents must be attached to your contract:

  • the disclosure statement that was given to you
  • the condition report (if applicable)
  • a list of the village services and facilities
  • the current village rules (if any).

Certain matters cannot be included in your village contract, such as terms that:

  • require you to take out ambulance cover or insurance (except in relation to motorised wheelchairs)
  • restrict the period of time you may be absent from the village (for example, when you are on holidays, visiting relatives, or in hospital)
  • require you to have a will or to disclose its location to the operator
  • charge you the operator’s costs of corresponding with you or your representatives
  • impose a penalty for breaching the village rules or the contract
  • waive an operator’s liability for negligence.

The full list of excluded matters is in Schedule 3 of the Retirement Villages Regulation 2009.

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The condition report 

A condition report is a record of the condition of your unit at the beginning of your residency. The operator must complete the condition report before you occupy the unit. It must be completed with you, or a person on your behalf, in attendance, unless you give written approval otherwise.

The operator must give you the completed condition report at least 14 days before entering into a contract and must also give you a copy with your contract. If the unit is still under construction, the completed condition report must be given to you 14 days before you move in.

When you vacate, you will be required to leave the unit (including any garage, courtyard and other inclusions) in a similar condition as set out in the condition report, other than fair wear and tear. Keep the condition report safe, as you may need it if there is a disagreement when you move out.

These requirements do not apply, and you do not need a condition report, if you are a registered interest holder (ie. if you will own the unit under strata, community or company title or will have a long-term registered lease which entitles you to at least 50% of the capital gains when you leave).

Cooling-off rights 

If you change your mind, you have a cooling-off period of 7 business days after you enter into a village contract. As long as you have not moved into the unit, you can rescind (cancel) your contract during this period and receive a refund of any money you have already paid under the contract. You simply need to notify the operator and any other party to the contract in writing that you rescind the contract. However, there is no cooling-off period if you occupy the unit within the 7 day period.

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Settling-in period 

There is also a 90-day settling-in period. If you find you need to terminate your village contract within 90 days of the date you became entitled to move in, you only have to pay:

  • fair market rent
  • the cost of any repairs for damage in excess of fair wear and tear
  • a reasonable administration fee (maximum $200) and
  • the reasonable costs the operator had incurred in making alterations or adding any fixtures or fittings to the unit at your specific request.

You do not have to pay any departure fees. Any recurrent charges you paid must be refunded within 14 days.

You are entitled to a refund of your ingoing contribution or the proceeds from the sale of the unit. The timing for payment of this refund depends on the type of village contract you signed.

If you were a non-registered interest holder, you are entitled to a refund of your entry payment within 14 days after terminating the village contract. If were a registered interest holder, you will usually need to wait until the unit is sold, re-leased or occupied by a new resident to obtain your refund, which could take considerably longer.

To terminate your contract, you need to give written notice to the operator – or if it is a residence contract being terminated, permanently vacate the village – before the end of the settling-in period.

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Cancelling the contract 

You may be able to rescind (cancel) your contract if the operator did not give you a disclosure statement when required, or if the information in it is false or misleading. To do this you must, within 3 months after you move in, apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order allowing you to rescind your village contract.

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