Ownership & legalities
Property ownership in retirement villages comes under slightly different legislation to normal home ownership. They have different forms of legal title and occupancy rights, and other costs such as stamp duty may or may not apply.
Types of tenure
The various forms of occupation or ownership rights of retirement villages are referred to as ‘tenure’. They will include provisions for resident consultation about the management of the community and the use of the village facilities.
The legal forms of tenure for buying into retirement villages are:
Leasehold estates: The owner/developer continues to own the property, however you pay the market value of the unit in exchange for a period of time (49 - 199 year lease). This is generally the most common form of tenure used by ‘for profit’ developers.
Licences to occupy: The village developer or owner gives you a licence to occupy your unit which means you are permitted to stay under certain conditions such as not altering the property or surrounding gardens. This form of tenure is generally the most common used by ‘not-for-profit’ developers.
Company share arrangement: The village is still owned by the retirement village developer who sells you shares which entitle you to live in your unit. Although some retirement villages do use this tenure, it is not a common form.
Strata title ownership: Similar to regular strata-title schemes where the property is divided into units, this operates as a direct ownership structure. You pay the agreed purchase price, are registered on the title deed and become a member of the owners’ corporation. However unlike regular strata, the retirement village operator may have to approve you as a resident and you sign a management contract with the village owner.
This is not a common form of tenure for retirement villages.
NB: In South Australia, while Strata Title does still exist, divisions no longer occurred after June 2009. Community Title was bought in to replace it. Existing Strata Corporations were not affected by the change.
Community title ownership: This is a very rare form of tenure for retirement villages and operates on a direct ownership structure similar to strata, except in community title, the land is divided into ‘Lots’.