It has been a long time coming but retirement village residents are finally entitled to a rates rebate.
Minister of Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta announced today that from 1 July 2018 eligible retirement village residents will be able to apply to their local council for a rates rebate.
“The Rates Rebate (Retirement Village Residents) Amendment Act 2018, ensures that retirement village residents who do not own their unit, but pay fees to live there, are recognised as rate payers, and are therefore entitled to apply for a rebate,” says Minister Mahuta.
The change to the legislation was the result of years of lobbying from the Retirement Villages Association (RVA) and was championed by Hon Ruth Dyson, whose Rates Rebate (Retirement Village Residents) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot in May 2016. The National Party initially opposed the Bill, but came on board at the beginning of this year, once requested changes had been made to the Bill.
The RVA has long held that it is inconsistent to deny a rates rebate to an income-eligible licence to occupy (LTO) resident when their neighbour over the fence is entitled to receive it, only because retirement village living wasn’t envisaged when the legislation was drafted.
The Rates Rebate Act was passed in 1973 to provide some financial relief to ratepayers. Back then, the concept of a retirement village with its unique LTO regime was unknown. Now, retirement villages are well established and residents pay their share of the costs of running the village through weekly fees, which will invariably include rates.
Further, councils are also increasingly charging rates across all units in a retirement village, rather than making one charge across the entire village, which suggests that councils see the individual dwellings in the village as rateable units.
RVA executive director John Collyns says the RVA is delighted to see the legislation changed.
“The RVA has been working with officials from the Department of Internal Affairs to design a system that’s as efficient as possible and respects residents’ privacy yet delivers the rebate where it’s most needed.
“The amended Act rectifies an inequity that locked retirement village residents with a Licence to Occupy out of the rebate scheme, relying instead on individual Councils’ generosity to provide a remission.
“The remission scheme was paid by ratepayers and most Councils refused to provide it, because, they argued, the rebate scheme is a central government responsibility.
“Only four Councils offered a remission – Auckland, Thames-Coromandel, New Plymouth, and Kapiti, and we are grateful to them for their years of support,” says Collyns.
Eligible residents are required to fill out an application form, and provide a declaration certificate completed by their village operator. The Department of Internal Affairs has also produced a comprehensive Guide to applying the rebate. These documents are available now on the RVA’s website and will be available on the Department of Internal Affairs website from 1 July 2018.
“We also hope that Councils will be able to send staff to villages to help residents to complete the rebate forms and we’ve recommended that managers contact their local Council to arrange for this to happen,” says Collyns.