Retirement Village

What Do The Different Types Of Property Ownership in NSW Actually Mean?


Whether you are buying your first home or a commercial investment property, it is important to have an understanding of the more common forms of property ownership used within New South Wales. Different title types have regulations unique to their form and can have varying charges attached to them. Knowing the difference can assist you to make an informed choice before buying property.


Torrens Title

Torrens Title is the most common form of property ownership in New South Wales. Also referred to as Freehold Title, this system of ownership was introduced in 1858. Torren Titles are registered with the state government and providing there is no mortgage on the property, the land is completely owned by the persons registered on the Certificate of Title (also known as a ‘Title Deed’). If there is a mortgage on the property, the mortgagee generally holds the Certificate of Title as security until the loan is paid. Your name as the owner will appear on the Certificate of Title but the mortgage will also be registered here to show the interest the mortgagee has in the property.


Old System Title

Property ownership of this kind dates back to when New South Wales was first colonised in 1788. Because Australia was colonised by the English, the system used to track property ownership also came from England. Old System title uses a system of registration that uses a separate document every time the land is purchased by another party. As the number of transactions in relation to the property increases, so does the number of documents attached to the title of the property. This way you can see the paper trail of how the property has passed between people. It is very common for Old System Title documents to go missing because of this. Like Torrens Title, owners of Old System Title own the interest in the land completely. It is now uncommon to own property this way as it has been replaced by Torren Title however, it is still possible.


Strata Title

Strata Title is very common when looking at apartment blocks, units and town houses. Owning a property under a strata arrangement generally means that you only own part of a building and have shared interests with other owners of the strata complex in regards to common property such as gardens or stairwells. For example, with a unit, this means that you generally own the inside of the unit but not the outside walls or fixtures as they are generally deemed common property. It is very common for strata properties to be run by a strata management company who control the upkeep, maintenance and finances for the common areas. If you purchase property that is a Strata Title you will generally be required to make quarterly payments into the sinking fund and administrative fund for your share of the common property on a continuous basis.



Leasehold arrangements generally apply to government owned land. With this type of arrangement, you do not own the property outright but instead lease it for an extended period of time, generally 99 years. As the lessee, you will be entitled to occupy the land for that entire period. When entering into this arrangement, there is an initial cost for the Leasehold arrangement (negotiated between the parties) as well as annual rental payments. Terms and conditions for Leasehold agreements vary.


Community Title

Community Titles are most often used for large development lots and for gated estates. It has some similarities to Strata Title but generally it is the property owners that are jointly responsible for maintaining the properties. Instead of a strata company, there is often a residence committee or a manager that ensures the upkeep of the property. Community Title schemes generally maintain their own roads, gardens and garbage facilities (including collection). Whilst Community Title owners still receive service from their local council, they are often limited. Buying into a Community Title arrangement, like Strata Title systems, require continuous payments in order to account for your share of the upkeep. 


When purchasing property under any of these schemes, it is important to speak to a conveyancer or lawyer with Property Law experience to help you understand the complexities and requirements under each kind of title. If you need further information or assistance please contact:

Carrie Alton
02 4036 3307

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

Retirement Villages – Helping You To Make Informed Decisions


Moving into a retirement village is not an investment choice, it is a lifestyle choice and can be a very exciting time. Living in a private and secure environment with people of a similar age are just some of the reasons why the move may be a positive change for you. However like any other major life decision, there are a great many things to consider before signing an agreement. From a lawyers perspective, Carrie outlines some of the things you should think about when considering moving into a retirement village.


What is a retirement village?

A retirement village is a residential complex where the people that live there have entered into a contract with the operator of the village, either to live in the premises and/or to receive other services that may be available. It is important to remember that support services and facilities available in villages can differ depending on the provider and you should visit multiple providers to find what best works for you.


Within the retirement village framework there is a variety of accommodation types available including:

  • Self-contained premises for people who are able to live independently;

  • Serviced living arrangements (also known as assisted living apartments) which also provide cleaning meals and other needed services; and

  • A mixture of both which allows those who live there to take on services as the need arises.


What laws apply to retirement villages?

In New South Wales the main legislation that applies to retirement villages is the Retirement Villages Act 1999 and the Retirement Villages Regulation 2017. It is important to note that this does not include or cover nursing homes. This legislation sets out what is required of the operators and the rights of the residents, what information should be provided to people interested in living within their facilities, explain how and when the contract can be ended and set out the process of entering into a village contract.


Types of village contracts

In New South Wales there is a variety of contract types used by retirement village operators to engage new residents and manage their facilities. Some of the contractual arrangements used are:

  • Loan and Licence Arrangements – this option is generally used by not for profit organisations such as a church that owns a village. In these circumstances you pay a contribution going in to the facility in the form of an interest free loan in return for the right to occupy the premises. You may also pay recurrent fees. You do not own the unit or have a registered interest in these arrangements;

  • Leasehold Arrangements – this is where the operator owns the residential property and you as the resident lease the property. The lease is registered on the title deed which provides you with some extra protection if the retirement village is sold. The amount you pay depends on the village you choose and the market. When you leave you may be required to pay a departure fee;

  • Strata and Community Schemes – this type of arrangement has many similarities to standard strata schemes where you will be a member of the owners corporation or community association and be required to pay levies to cover the cost of managing the property. However, unlike these schemes, you will be required to enter into a service contract with the operator before you can move in; and

  • Company Title Schemes – Some, although very few privately run villages may also use this scheme. The village is owned by a company and instead you purchase shares at market value which in turn give you the right to occupy the premises. A Board of Directors which are appointed by the shareholders run the village.


Things you should consider

There is a variety of things you should consider before entering into an agreement with a retirement village. Some of these include:

  • Seek expert advice from a lawyer before making a commitment. A solicitor can go through the contract, explain your rights and requirements of you if you choose to enter into an agreement with a retirement village;

  • Think about the type of village you want to live in and what you can afford on a continuing basis;

  • Visit the village and get a feel for the culture of the community to make sure it is a place you are happy to live; and

  • Read and understand the policies of the village on guests and pets look into the health and lifestyle programs available at the facility.


You are more likely to make a decision that suits your needs and lifestyle choices if you are well informed and seek advice from the very outset of your journey into a retirement village.


If you need further information or assistance in navigating your rights and responsibilities or understanding the contract please contact:

Carrie Alton
02 4036 3307

Top 10 things to know before you purchase in a Retirement Village

If you are approaching the age of around 60 you are probably in the midst of planning your retirement. One of the big decisions to make is where you will live. There are many options depending on what your lifestyle and finances will allow, but many people will consider moving to a retirement village. If you are looking at moving to a retirement village here is a list of the top 10 things you need to know before you make the final decision.

What is a retirement village?

A retirement village is a community that is for people who are around 60 years of age and over. The community contains a range of accommodation and usually provides further facilities to cater to your lifestyle.

What do I receive as a resident in a retirement village?

Retirement Villages are maintained by the village which gives you more time to actually enjoy your retirement! Most retirement villages also provide a 24 hour emergency assistance.  Finally there are usually a number of facilities provided within the village, such as pools, tennis courts, bowling greens as well as third party services such as hairdressers and doctors.

Do I buy into a retirement village?

There are many different types of retirement villages, some of the most popular being either a leasehold or a loan and licence agreement. Regardless of the type of scheme, you will be required to contribute an “ingoing contribution” which is an amount of money that is required to be paid upon entering into a retirement village.  This amount is set based on size of unit, size of village, etc.

Can I sell my retirement village unit?

All retirement villages will allow you to be able to “sell” your unit, however most require an “outgoing contribution” which is an amount of money that you are required to pay to the village upon exiting the village. Again, this amount depends upon the retirement village itself and varies from village to village.

Am I entitled to any capital gain?

This is important to check when entering into a retirement village as this varies from village to village. There are villages that do not entitle you to any profit made from the “sale” of your unit, so this is something to be aware of.

Who is responsible for any capital loss?

Again this varies from village to village, however with most villages you will be responsible for any capital loss, regardless of whether you are entitled to any capital gain.

Do I have to pay fees to live in a retirement village?

As retirement villages provide you with services and facilities, all villages have a maintenance fee or lease fee or recurrent charge, which is payable. The amount is usually set annually and is set based on the cost of maintaining the village as a whole.

Do I own my retirement village unit?

Generally speaking you don’t “own” your unit, however you are entitled to the sole use of your unit and have rights and protection under the retirement village legislation.

Are there rules associated with living in a retirement village?

Yes, all villages have rules that you need to abide by in a retirement village. These rules will cover things like whether pets are allowed within the village and whether other people are able to reside at your unit with you.  You need to have read and be happy with the village rules before entering into the retirement village.

Who looks after the retirement village?

Retirement villages are maintained by the Village Manager. Some villages also have committees that residents are able to join to be able to have your say within the village to ensure that the resident’s needs are being met by the retirement village.

Retirement Villages in the Macarthur

There are many retirement villages around the Macarthur Area and their contracts will vary. That is why it is important to seek legal advice from a licensed Conveyancer to go through the contract with you and help you to understand what you are entering into.

If you would like advice on your retirement village contract and need a Conveyancer to act on the purchase. Please contact Carina Novek, Conveyancing Manager at Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers. Your initial consultation is free.

Retirement Village Contract 101

For some, the decision to downsize and start afresh in a retirement village is liberating. For others it is a time of anxiety and of good byes. What can compound a person’s anxiety is the huge Retirement Village contract and the lease to sign before they can move into their new place. There are a few general things to look out for in Retirement Village contract that are set out below. However, this article is no substitute for actual legal advice relevant to the particular contract you are considering.

What are you actually buying?

There are several ways to buy into a village:

  • Leasehold: usually meaning you will buy your unit and lease the land it is on. This is probably the most common way to buy into a village. In addition to your lease you often enter into a service agreement that sets out what the village operators will provide and, importantly, what they will charge you.
  • Right of occupancy: another common way to buy into a village, this method sees you buying the right to live in your unit. It is likely you will also need to enter into a service agreement.
  • Freehold: meaning you buy your unit- or most probably a villa or townhouse- and the land it is on outright.
  • Strata: meaning you buy your lot (ie. your unit) and own a share in common property (such as pathways, pools ect…).
  • Rental: occasionally it is possible to rent a unit, but this is not common in private retirement villages.

Work out the total cost

A common difficulty faced by a person comparing the various costs of two villages is that they find themselves trying to compare apples with oranges. This is because there are quite a few fees that are involved when moving into a retirement village. One may have a fairly low daily maintence fee (also called an ongoing fee or recurrent fee) but a very high exit fee. Another may charge almost twice as much per day but when you leave you keep much more of the sale price in your pocket. When you are trying to compare two different villages, jot down all of the fees and do a table showing you what you will pay over 5 years, 10 years and 15 years. This is a good way to find out the true cost of a particular village. A financial adviser that specialises in retirement villages and aged care advice can be helpful in this respect.

Exit fees

Often called the Deferred Management Fee, all villages charge a fee on your exit. Some villages will load this fee in the first few years of your stay, meaning they make most of the fee even if your stay is short.  Other villages’ exit fee will increase gradually over time. You need to be aware of how this fee is structures as if you know that you will only stay for a brief period you would do well to find a village that offers a gradual increase to its exit fees.

Selling the unit

Check if the contract allows you to use your own agent and sell your unit. Some contracts will only allow the operators to sell your unit. If the contract also provides that you have to continue paying all ongoing fees until sold finding a buyer might be low on the owner’s priority list.

Other items to watch out for

  • High increases in ongoing costs, such as electricity and telephone- in NSW these increases must be in line with CPI, unless either the residence committee has agreed or the increase has been Court ordered.
  • Are you allowed a pet?
  • Are you allowed to modify your unit if, for example, you need to later on install a disabled access shower?
  • Refurbishment costs: some contracts will require you to refurbish your unit before selling it. The contract should state if only a clean unit with any damaged repaired is required or you will need undertake more costly work, such as new carpet.
  • Costs of improvement to capital investments trying to be passed on to residents. Residents are responsible for maintenance costs only, not for the costs for capital improvements.

The operators of a village are not necessarily trying to trap people into contracts with hidden costs. In fact they often urge people to get legal advice before signing up. The complex fee structure has developed in part so that villages can remain affordable but still be able to operate as a viable business unless it is run on a not-for-profit basis.

Whether or not moving into a retirement village is the right option for you is a personal decision. However, you do need to be fully informed of all of the financial implications before you sign up. Particularly what your financial position will be if you have to move out of a village and into a nursing home- will you have enough money following the sale of your unit to pay your bond? Try to compare a few different places and request a copy of their contract, lease and service agreement. If you cannot work out the true financial costs of one place over another seek the advice of a financial planner and seek legal advice on the terms of the contract and the lease before you sign up.

For a review on your Retirement Village Contract call Coutts Solicitors and Conveyancers on 1300 268 887.