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Business models, consumer experiences and regulation of retirement villages

Retirement villages provide age-specific housing to five per cent of older Australians (10% of over-75s), and there is considerable potential for growth. Barriers to further expansion include affordability and concerns about the fairness and clarity of contracts.

The project will consider how business models leveraging government subsidy, supported by regulation, could meet consumer demand and provide affordable housing options for older Australians through four questions:

  1. What is distinctive about community living in retirement villages? Living in an age-specific community is an attractive lifestyle, and a model that can support ageing well. The sector also has a distinctive business model that allows residents to free up capital by purchasing a licence, and deferring payment until they leave villages.
  2. What is the consumer experience, particularly regarding contracts, access to services, and community relations? How do consumers experience difficulties? Although state regulation has gone some way towards protecting consumers, there have nonetheless been legal disputes.
  3. What business models are employed? What are the current challenges? Since the sector has not grown beyond five per cent of the older population, the industry is reflecting on quality and consumer experiences and considering more affordable products.
  4. How can the Australian government help the sector to expand? How can it diversify provision and support consumer choice? The retirement village sector has been assisted through legislation establishing standards and regulatory agencies. There are also opportunities for investment by State Housing Authorities to make village living affordable.

The research will review academic and industry literature; survey residents in different types of villages (in Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland); and interview residents and stakeholders about their experiences, perspectives and industry knowledge.

Lead Researcher: Dr Max Travers, University of Tasmania

Project Number: 41275