Last updated 31 October 2022

The current Retirement Villages Act 1999 (Qld) (Retirement Villages Act) does not prescribe how a resident holds title to their unit in the village. Instead, it refers to a concept called a ‘right to reside’.

As a consequence, there are various arrangements devised by operators to record a resident’s right to reside in a unit including:

  • freehold titles
  • lifelong (or 99-year) leases
  • lease and loan arrangements
  • licence and loan arrangements
  • share scheme arrangements.

Although a freehold title may offer the best security of tenure, often the security can be complicated by bodies corporate, lease backs, mortgages or caveats securing maintenance levies and the various powers of attorneys. Leasehold tends to be the most common tenure used and is relatively secure as the lease of the unit is generally registered on the village’s title. The licence structure is the simplest but not necessarily the most secure, and was popular in older-style villages. It remains the most common tenure used by not-for-profit operators.

Whichever way the village is structured, a person needs to understand how they hold their right to live in the unit and that, generally, it is not the same as owning their own home, even if they have freehold title to their unit. The security of tenure is ultimately controlled by the Retirement Villages Act and the terms of the agreement with the operator.

It is important to understand any change made by the Retirement Villages Act to residents who hold a lease of their unit. Under the previous legislation, a statutory charge was registered on the title deed of the retirement village land. This charge was meant to secure the repayment of monies owing to residents. Under the Retirement Villages Act there is no such charge registered on the title deed for new leasehold villages. New villages, where residents are given a licence of their unit, will still have a statutory charge registered on the title deed, but operators who can establish that they have a good record as an operator can apply for an exemption.