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Types of Ownership in Australian Retirement Villages

Types of Retirement Village Ownership

Individuals and couples who are considering living in a Retirement Village can be confronted with a wide variety of legal structures, and often very complex documentation. It is unfortunate, but this complexity can actually deter individuals from taking the effort to fully understand their legal and financial position - something which is critical if they are to make the right decisions at a crucial juncture in their lives, and to ensure they remain financially secure.

Consistent with our approach elsewhere, we provide an overview below of the various legal structures you may encounter, but strongly recommend that you seek experienced legal advice before committing to any village. Legal fees paid at this stage will pale into comparison with those you will encounter later if things should "go wrong" - these types of commitments should be approached on the basis that they are as much as an investment as a lifestyle choice.

The types of legal structure you will encounter include the following:

Long Term Lease
Long Term License
Conventional (Short Term) Lease
Direct Ownership Structures that provide Freehold Title - Community and Strata Title
Indirect Ownership Structures - Company Shares and Unit Trusts
Manufactured home structures that involve the ownership of the home and a lease or license to occupy a site within a village

We summarise each of these options in more detail, and would mention that most "ownership" options such as Strata and Community will attract stamp duty - in contrast to the non-ownership options including leases and licenses. Mainly for this reason, but also because it suits owners and operators, long term or lifetime lease and license arrangements are the dominant legal structure as illustrated in the chart below.

Since October 1, 2013 the NSW Government has required the use of standard contracts for retirement villages - which make it easier for prospective residents to compare costs and conditions. The standard contracts are a useful resource for individuals looking to familiarise themselves with these types of documents.


If you would like to arrange professional advice in relation to the above matters, please complete the Inquiry form below providing details and you will be contacted accordingly. You will receive a fee quotation in advance of any advice or services being provided.