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Over 60’s Units

If you are considering a change of scenery, it may be useful to consider the different types of properties available to you. When it comes time to downsize the family home, you might consider a retirement village or buying a new home. One option you may not have considered is an over-60’s unit. The Council identified a need for accessible housing for senior members of the Christchurch community within the private sector. Zoning land which allows for over-60’s housing is one way of addressing these needs. 

As the name suggests, over-60’s units are designed with people over 60 years of age in mind. The purpose of these units is to provide a self-managed community for seniors as an alternative to retirement villages. The units are usually smaller in size and a single storey.  What makes over-60s units unique is that there is an encumbrance registered on the title requiring that the occupants of the house be 60 years of age or older. An encumbrance is a restriction that is placed on a title, and prevents the owner from doing certain activities. In the case of over-60’s units, the encumbrance prevents certain people from living in the property. To qualify to live in an over-60’s unit, you need to be either over 60 years of age, or qualify for a permanent supported living payment on health grounds. Partners, spouses, dependents, and caregivers of a qualifying person can also live in the property.

Over-60’s units are different from retirement villages or Council-managed flats. Over-60’s units are properties that you own. This means you won’t have to pay any deferred management fees when you sell the property, like you would for an occupation right agreement at a retirement village. However, you also don’t get the benefit of the support services retirement villages usually provide. Over-60’s units are commonly owned by way of a unit title, which is a group of properties in a single development that share common areas. Unit title properties often have a governing body, called a Body Corporate, made up of all the unit title owners and is responsible for such matters as managing any common areas. Body Corporates often have special rules about what you can do with the property, such as whether you can have pets. It is important that you check these rules before you buy a unit title property, to ensure that you are willing and able to comply with them.

If you are considering buying an over-60s unit, or you already own one, you should keep in mind that if you decide to sell it there is a limited pool of potential buyers and this may make the property more difficult to sell. On the other hand, with an aging population, this type of housing may be in demand for years to come.

It is possible in limited circumstances to have the encumbrance removed, allowing anyone of any age to live in the property. However, as the encumbrance is registered by the Christchurch City Council, the decision to remove the encumbrance lies with the Council.

If you are considering buying or selling an over-60’s unit, it’s best to talk to a specialist first. The team at Harmans Lawyers has the knowledge and experience to help you navigate this process. Please contact Phillipa Shaw on 03 352 2293 to arrange a time to discuss your situation.

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