Code of Practice

The Code of Practice 2008 sets out further rights and obligations of retirement village operators and residents. It provides a set of minimum requirements that all retirement village operators must comply with.

Provisions in the Code override any less-favourable term in an occupation right agreement and are enforceable by residents against operators.

The Code of Practice 2008 has been in effect since 2 October 2009, replacing the 2006 code. The Code has been varied twice since 2 October 2009.

Operator must provide copies

The village operator must give a copy of the Code of Practice to any intending resident along with the disclosure statement, occupation right agreement and Code of Residents Rights before the intending resident signs an occupation right agreement.  The village operator must also give a copy of the Code of Practice to any resident or intending resident who asks for one.

Areas covered by the Code of Practice 2008

The Code of Practice 2008 sets out minimum requirements of operators in 10 areas:

  • Staffing of retirement villages
  • Safety and personal security of residents
  • Fire protection and emergency management
  • Transfer of residents within a retirement village
  • Meetings of residents with the operator and residents’ involvement
  • Complaints facility
  • Accounts
  • Maintenance and upgrading
  • Termination of an occupation right agreement by the operator or resident
  • Communication with residents

Read the Code of Practice

At the Code of Practice 2008 page on the website of the Building and Housing Group, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, you can download a PDF copy of the Code of Practice 2008 to read or print. 

Retirement Villages - code of practice thumbnail

Variations to the Code of Practice

The Retirement Commissioner is responsible for consulting on any proposed variations to the Code of Practice, analysing submissions and making recommendations to the Minister for Building and Construction.

Variations in effect from 1 April 2017

In October 2016 the Minister for Building and Construction gave notice of variations to the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 which come into force on 1 April 2017. The variations are to clauses 31 – 36 and concern the complaints facility in retirement villages

Download a copy of the Code of Practice with the most recent amendments

Submissions and recommendations

The Retirement Commissioner received submissions on revised variations in June / July 2016 and presented recommendations to the Minister for Building and Construction in August 2016.

Download the recommendations report here.

Download the approved variations to clauses 31- 36 here.

Clause 31: Resident may raise an issue or concern informally

Clause 31 requires operators to have and use a written procedure so that residents may contact the operator or their representative informally about a concern or issue at any time. The resident must receive an acknowledgement and a response to the issue or concern in writing within a reasonable time.

The new procedure for raising issues or concerns informally does not prevent a resident from making a formal complaint in the first instance.

Clause 32 – Complaint facility objective and monitoring

Clause 32 sets out the objective of an operator’s Complaint Facility is to enable every formal complaint to be resolved in a way that is resident-appropriate, objective and fair, quick and cost-effective for the operator and the resident. The ability of residents to proceed directly to a formal complaint or to file a formal complaint without first going through the informal process is protected. The clause also requires operators to report to the Retirement Commissioner six-monthly in relation to formal complaints for each village.

Clause 33 – Formal complaints policy

Clause 33 sets out a requirement that operators have and use a written complaints policy for dealing with issues raised by residents as formal complaints, and how operators must provide the policy to residents. The clause also contains the operators’ obligations to explain the steps in the complaints policy to residents or intending residents.

Clause 34 – Making a formal complaint

Clause 34 sets out how a resident may raise an issue or concern as a formal complaint. This clause sets out the option available to residents to have an authorised representative or the operator write a complaint on their behalf and the process for ensuring that formal complaints are recorded accurately in these situations. Operators have to provide written confirmation of receipt of a complaint within five working days.

Clause 35 – Procedure for resolving formal complaints

Clause 35 sets out the procedure that operators must follow in resolving formal complaints. This includes the new option of referring complaints to a mediator with the resident’s agreement.

The new approach follows a progressive step-by-step process to resolving formal complaints. Following receipt of a formal complaint the parties may try to resolve the complaint between themselves. If the complaint is not resolved within 20 working days the operator may refer the complaint to the village’s statutory supervisor who may recommend a way forward. If the complaint remains unresolved after a further 20 working days or if referral to the statutory supervisor is not possible then the operator must provide the option of mediation.

If the dispute remains unresolved following mediation the resident may issue a dispute notice and proceed to a dispute panel administered by the Retirement Commissioner. The resident retains the right to issue a dispute notice at any stage of the process after 20 working days and within six months of filing a formal complaint.

Clause 36 – Costs of mediation

Clause 36 sets out the operator’s requirement to pay for mediation services for disputes between operators and residents and that the cost of mediation services will be split evenly between operators and residents in cases of disputes between residents. Each party will be responsible for paying their own costs in relation to preparing and attending mediation and operators are responsible for the Disputes Panel costs unless the Panel decides otherwise.

Dispute resolution diagram

The new dispute resolution diagram provides residents with a simple tool that clearly presents the options available to them and where they may turn for help.

Variations in effect from October 2013

In October 2012, the Minister for Building and Construction gave notice of variations to the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 which came into force on 14 October 2013. The variations were to clauses 22, 47 and 54 and concerned no-fault exit situations in retirement villages, such as occurred as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes.  

Submissions and recommendations

The Retirement Commissioner received submissions on the proposed variations in November 2011. The submissions were analysed and a summary of submissions was prepared. The Commissioner presented her recommendations to the Minister for Building and Construction in March 2012.

Recommendations by the Retirement Commissioner (PDF 131.93 KB, Sep 2013) to the Minister for Building and Construction on proposed variations to the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 (March 2012)

Summary of submissions (PDF 563.36 KB, Sep 2013) received by the Retirement Commissioner in November 2011 on proposed variations to the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 (March 2012)

Consultation on the proposed Code of Practice 2008

Prior to the Code of Practice 2008 coming into effect, the Commissioner consulted on the proposed code and made recommendations to the Minister for Building and Construction.

Recommendations to the Minister for Building and Construction on the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 (PDF 142.15 KB, Sep 2013)