Approximately $2.5 million has been paid to eligible retirement village residents following changes to the Rates Rebate Act.
When the Act was passed in 1973 to help support people on low incomes to afford local government rates on their properties, retirement village residents were not included as the industry and licence to occupy model were unknown.
Retirement Villages Association (RVA) Executive Director John Collyns says that despite the rapid growth of village living as a popular form of accommodation, until now residents have been denied access to the rebate.
“The Rates Rebate Act is an important part of the rating system and is designed to provide financial relief to people who are financially stretched by paying their rates.
“We have always considered it inconsistent with the Act that a resident with an LTO who pays their rates via their village weekly fee is denied access to a rebate simply because the Act didn’t cater for it when drafted.
“With around 50% of our residents having only their National Superannuation to live on, the rebate is of particular benefit. MPs have listened and now eligible residents can claim rebates like everyone else.”
Some 4,275 applications were made to 44 councils across New Zealand for the rebate – around 13% of all retirement villages units (currently 32,200).
Mr Collyns says four councils had a remission scheme for village residents in place with a slightly higher level of rebates paid – Auckland 15.5%, Thames-Coromandel 45%, New Plymouth 31% and Kapiti 10%.
Several councils where villages often tend to be older and more “affordable” had a higher percentage of claimants than the national average.
In Ashburton, 40% of retirement village residents claimed the rebate, 25% in the Far North, 40% in Horowhenua, 29% in Marlborough, 30% in Napier, 47% in the South Waikato District, 31% in New Plymouth, 45% in Thames-Coromandel, and 40% in Upper Hutt City.
“These figures illustrate an important point – retirement villages are for all Kiwis, not just for the well-off,” said Mr Collyns.
“Most units are priced around the average house value in the area where the village is based. Residents can sell their home, move to a village and release some equity, thereby adding to their retirement savings and enjoying a better quality of life.”