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Retirement Housing

Temporary Update:

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic there are directions/laws that may change the information below, or may impact a person’s ability to attend a residential aged care facility due to Covid-19.

Please visit the South Australian Government’s dedicated COVID-19 response website here [link opens in a new window] for the latest information on these directions.

From 1 January 2018, the Retirement Villages Act 2016 (SA) governs retirement villages in South Australia, from entering into residence contracts, to meetings and consultation, residence rules, termination and exit entitlements.

For more information on retirement housing, see also Office for Ageing Well's booklet Retirement Villages: Information for Residents and Prospective Residents.

Features of Retirement Villages

Retirement villages are often independently owned and privately operated. This means that before entering a retirement village, a prospective resident will be asked to sign a retirement village residence contract. This contract will stipulate the rights and obligations of both the resident and the retirement village operator. For more information see: Residence Contracts.

Most retirement villages operate on the basis that by entering into a retirement village residence contract, a resident is granted a lease or licence to occupy the premises. That means that they do not own the residence in which you live, but rather have a right to occupy it. In some instances a resident may be able to purchase the premises on the condition that the operator is granted the right to repurchase. The retirement village residence contract will stipulate the nature of the resident's interest in the property.

It is important that legal advice be sought before entering into any residence contract, to ensure that the person is aware of their rights and obligations.

What other accommodation options do I have aside from living in a retirement village?

Retirement villages may vary from village to village in terms of their size and the type of accommodation and services they offer. While many older people choose to live in a retirement village, there are also other accommodation options available. Future accommodation choices may have financial implications on a person's social security entitlements, tax liabilities, and future finances. The Centrelink Financial Information Service may be able to advise on potential financial consequences of any proposed future accommodation arrangement.

Family Arrangements

Family arrangements involve a person remaining in their home with the support of their family, or moving into a family's residence and utilising their care and support. In some instances, a person's family may provide care and support in exchange for a share in the person's home, for example, or other financial benefit. In these circumstances it can be important to have a written agreement that outlines the financial, living and care arrangements. As these arrangements may fall under Centrelink's 'granny flat' rules and 'gifting' rules, and may impact upon a person's aged care costs if they move into an aged care facility in the future, it is important to get financial and legal advice before entering into a family arrangement.

Aged Care Homes

Aged care homes vary from being privately owned, to run by church organisations, local councils, and not-for-profit organisations. The Commonwealth Government accredits, regulates and subsidises aged care homes. Therefore, while aged care homes are accredited by the Commonwealth Government, retirement villages do not require Commonwealth Government approval to operate. Aged care homes are also governed by separate legislation from retirement villages.

Various fees and payments apply to reside in an aged care home, which are often determined by a person's income and assets. Eligibility to enter into an aged care home is determined following an assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). To arrange an ACAT assessment, contact My Aged Care.

Complaints against government funded aged care services can be made to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. For more information see the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website.

Remaining at Home

Some older people may be able to remain at home with the assistance of certain home support services and home care packages. My Aged Care is the starting point to access government funded aged support services.

A person has a right to seek rental accommodation regardless of age, and cannot be refused rental accommodation or have their current tenancy agreement terminated because of their age.

Retirement Housing  :  Last Revised: Tue May 5th 2020
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.