What about rental units in retirement villages?

Judith Davey


I have written before about the prospect that a growing number of older people will be living in rental accommodation in the future – based on a declining trend in home ownership.

Another recent blog was about the growth in retirement villages as a housing option, albeit one which is largely open only to people who have been home owners.

These facts made me wonder about the prospect of retirement villages offering rental accommodation. I enquired of the Retirement Villages Association and, thanks to the Executive Director John Collyns, was told that there are currently 52 villages (members of the RVA), providing 510 rental units in total. About half have less than 10 such units. Both not-for-profit and commercial villages are represented in the list, but the balance is towards the former. Only Oceania, among the top six operators is reported to have rentals. The leaders in the not-for-profit sector are Masonic Villages and Trusts, the Selwyn Foundation and Presbyterian Support/Enliven.

Villages with rental units are spread throughout the country, but their distribution mirrors that of retirement villages in general, with a concentration in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. Only one in five villages with rentals are in the South Island, mainly in Marlborough and Canterbury.

When I tried to find out more about rental units in villages, starting with those reported as having more than 20 units, I found a surprising lack of information. Mostly this option was not mentioned on their web-sites, even though the RVA data said rentals existed.

I am wondering why.

Is it because the potential demand is growing and could be so high that advertising is not necessary or would raise expectations that cannot be met?

Is there some feeling that renters are somehow “second class” (which is a long-held prejudice in New Zealand)? And that having rented accommodation would somehow detract from the high-life image which many retirement villages try to project?

Is there a question of the financial viability of rental accommodation, especially for villages in the commercial sector which need to make a profit for shareholders? The cost of land and construction is high to cover by reasonable rents. Operators have told the RVA that unless there is a grant or similar benefit from the government or local body, such as access to land, building rentals from scratch is uneconomic.

It certainly appears that the community trusts and charitable organisations are looking more favourably towards incorporating rental options into their offerings. Their mandate is often to house people who are not so well off as the usual RV cohort. Quotes from their web-sites:

“usually for people who are unable financially to provide for their own house purchase.” Aparangi Village in Te Kauwhata.

“Eligibility – Older than 65 years with less than $140 000 in total assets. “
Tamahere Eventide Retirement Village in Hamilton.

Retirement villages in the not-for-profit sector have often received assistance from the public sector or from churches. For example Tamahere Village, with assistance from the state, was able to build a number of quality units and rent them out at a rate less than the average market rental in the Waikato. (It is also a Methodist Church outreach project).

HBH Stevenson Village, Manukau, began as a joint venture between Howick Returned Services Association and Sir William and Lady Stevenson. It is now “a service of Howick Baptist Healthcare”. This village offers low cost rentals for “elderly people on lower incomes. “ Their eligibility criteria -“independent NZ Citizens over 60 years with an emphasis on people who have served the country.”

Several Masonic villages have rental options, including Horowhenua Masonic Village, Levin; Wairarapa Masonic Village, Masterton; Te Awahou Masonic Village, Foxton and Masonic Court, Palmerston North.

“The decision whether buying or renting is best for you depends on your      circumstances. For example, moving into a retirement community may be an interim step or you may wish to retain a capital reserve that will keep on earning for you. If this is the case, renting may be the best option.”

One of the things to bear in mind with religious and welfare organisations is that they have significant tax free advantages by being charities, being able to attract bequests and often not having to pay their trust boards etc. Even so they still don’t seem to be very enthusiastic about getting into the rental space.

This picture is mirrored in Australia. Some traditional retirement villages provide a number of units available for rent. These are limited are not advertised in most cases. Almost all are owned by not- for-profit organisations and they provide the rental units as part of their mission to provide ‘affordable housing’ for the less well off.

There are also single purpose rental villages. These were popular amongst property developers around 1995 to 2005. But virtually none have been built since because of the cost and a low potential return.

There are apparently barriers to the development of rental housing in retirement villages, even though they seem to be a way of extending housing options for older people. If one was looking for such accommodation, it might be a daunting prospect.


About Age Concern New Zealand 'on research'

At the heart of everything Age Concern does is a passion to see older people experience well-being, respect, dignity, and to be included and valued. We support, inform and advise older people on issues such as access to health care, transport, housing, financial entitlements, and social opportunities. We also work to combat real problems in our society, like elder abuse and neglect, chronic loneliness and social isolation. We provide specialist services with trained and qualified professionals able to give expert advice and assistance. Age Concern is a charity and relies on the support of volunteers and public donations to do much of the work we do. To help us help older people, please consider making a donation of your time or money. To see how, visit www.ageconcern.org.nz
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14 Responses to What about rental units in retirement villages?

  1. Nickie Clavis says:

    I too would like to rent from a retirement villagein Auckland or Hibiscus Coast, but I guess the reason they don’t advertise the fact is that they want to sell as many units as possible.
    I like the idea of being in a small community of like- minded people and having help at hand if needed.


    • Andrea Dorn says:

      I agree entirely Nickie. I wrote to Ms Jane Wrightson about a week ago and, as you know, she is the Commissioner for Retirees and Retirement. I wrote about the dearth of Rentals in Retirement Villages and how difficult it was to ”get anywhere” with some of those that DO have Rentals!! I haven’t heard back from Ms Wrightson as yet but hope I do. I suggested to her that maybe there are so few rentals as they are not money -making for the Villages despite having requests a lot. At the Expo on Retirement a man representing Summerset Retirement Villages told me they have a lot of requests. Obviously, though, they are not going to heed the needs of those of us who cannot afford a privately owned apartment in their village. All in all , very frustrating and upsetting.


      • Jeannette Chiodera says:

        Hello Andrea
        I have been commenting on this problem previously, as when I was last in Auckland 2019 I inquired at several villages, to overcome this problem of no rentals available at these villages if some part in every village was made available for rent, the word rent is paying a weekly amount what every village deems appropriate. I feel it also has a lot to do with prestige with these villages. I enquired at the St Andrews Village myself when I was over and also I have contacted them by phone from here Qld. I am returning to Auckland after my husband passed away, and I will have to live with my son until I find somewhere . Good luck with Andrea with St Andrews Village
        Jeannette chiodera


      • Andrea Dorn says:

        My sympathies to you and your family Jeanette on the passing of your dear husband. I do hope you are faring all right? I’m interested to hear how you fared when you enquired at St Andrews? My experiences have left me totally frustrated and feeling hopeless as far as getting any form of reciprocation from the woman who is the Retirement Living Manager.Howick’s Stevenson Village is far more responsive though one still has to meet certain strict criteria. It is so wrong to feel at the ”mercy ”of these villages. At my stage of life this can be very humiliating and should not be so difficult to find suitable , reasonably priced accommodation . I find the whole exercise very stressful and do wish you luck when you arrive in Auckland. Since I have not heard from Jane Wrightson, perhaps I should contact Poto Williams , MP, and in charge of the ”Retirees” ?


  2. Gwenda Davison says:

    I can not believe that with all the retirement villages that are popping up all over NZ nowadays that it has become clear that they care more about profits and the more wealthier than they do about the low income seniors who can not afford to buy unit but can pay rent.


  3. Margaret Brooke says:

    I am looking for retirement rentals on the North Shore but am not having any success. Is this a possibility


  4. J Gack says:

    What is the Government doing to make sure their elderly lower income people are being cared for with respect and dignity?mybombers@gmail.com


    • Jeannette Chiodera says:

      Dear J. Gack
      I wrote about this problem early 2020 when I returned from Auckland after interring my husbands ashes, I had inquired about rentals in various retirement villages out of all of them ST Andrews Village was a remote hope, however there was no vacancy I would think if one has the means to pay a weekly rent I can’t see what the problem is. Here in Queensland there are retirement villages that have rental units, some are totally just for rentals. However this is no use to me now as I am returning to Auckland to be closer to my sons. It is a shame that the government did not take in account that there is a large aging population that worked all their lives, but through various reasons have not got the means to buy into sometime overpriced retirement villages.
      Jeannette chiodera


  5. Jeannette Chiodera says:

    I just read this article, but I am not surprised tha ther are no rentals in retirement villages, I enquired on the web and in person while visiting the family, I never received a favorable answer. I presently live in Australia, but hope to return since my husband died. Goodness only knows where I be ableto rent and for a reasonable price.
    Jeannette Chiodera


  6. Intrested to rent a 2 bhk
    Am retd professor from Boston University original from India


  7. It seems like a good idea, but there are barriers as I point out. Anh ideas how these could be overcome?


  8. lifecameos says:

    I was interested to read that there are rental options available in some retirement villages. Having been single for some time, and had my earning opportunities reduced by redundancies, I can not afford to buy into a retirement village. There must b many more like me, unable to buy into a retirement village. It could be difficult if I need residential care later on.


  9. Good detective work! I had no idea there were rental units in retirement villages, and you have shown why.


    • Andrea Dorn says:

      I have been enquiring about renting in a Retirement Village and have learned, before I read Judith’s article , that Rentals in Retirement Villages are few and far between. So far, I have enquired at St Andrews, Glendowie, and have asked for an information pack from the HBH Village in Howick . I do see from their website , though, that at present, there are no vacancies. I spoke to someone from Summerset Villages at the Expo on Retirement last weekend and he said he has numerous enquiries about renting but, of course, Summerset don’t do rentals either. I am hoping to have a meeting with Judy from the St Andrews Village very soon to find out more on how their rentals are panning out. I won’t be able to purchase an apartment and, oh how I wish there were more rentals available attached to Retirement villages!

      Liked by 1 person

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