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To rent or own: retirement living options

Date: May 05th, 2017

In Australia there are both ownership and rental opportunities for retirement living options. Generally the deciding factor of whether you rent or buy is subject to your financial situation.

Ownership & legalities

Property ownership in retirement villages comes under slightly different legislation to normal home ownership. They have different forms of legal title and occupancy rights, and other costs such as stamp duty may or may not apply.

Types of tenure

The various forms of occupation or ownership rights of retirement villages are referred to as ‘tenure’. They will include provisions for resident consultation about the management of the community and the use of the village facilities.

The legal forms of tenure for buying into retirement villages are:

Leasehold estates: The owner/developer continues to own the property, however you pay the market value of the unit in exchange for a period of time (49 – 199 year lease). This is generally the most common form of tenure used by ‘for profit’ developers.

Licences to occupy: The village developer or owner gives you a licence to occupy your unit which means you are permitted to stay under certain conditions such as not altering the property or surrounding gardens. This form of tenure is generally the most common used by ‘not-for-profit’ developers.

Company share arrangement: The village is still owned by the retirement village developer who sells you shares which entitle you to live in your unit. Although some retirement villages do use this tenure, it is not a common form.

Strata title ownership: Similar to regular strata-title schemes where the property is divided into units, this operates as a direct ownership structure. You pay the agreed purchase price, are registered on the title deed and become a member of the owners’ corporation. However unlike regular strata, the retirement village operator may have to approve you as a resident and you sign a management contract with the village owner.

This is not a common form of tenure for retirement villages.

NB: In South Australia, while Strata Title does still exist, divisions no longer occurred after June 2009. Community Title was bought in to replace it. Existing Strata Corporations were not affected by the change.

Community title ownership: This is a very rare form of tenure for retirement villages and operates on a direct ownership structure similar to strata, except in community title, the land is divided into ‘Lots’.

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This article was originally published on Reproduced with permission of DPS Publishing.


This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person. 

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