Retirement Living

Russell Kennedy has more than 35 years of experience supporting retirement living developers and operators and boasts the largest retirement living legal team in Australia. 


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We have a deep understanding of this industry, the legislative frameworks across jurisdictions within Australia, trends in the reform agenda of the state based regulators, and market trends in developing innovative and customer focused retirement village schemes and contracts.

We work with retirement village owners and operators to provide advice as to structuring village developments, joint venture, development and operations management arrangements, to prepare residence contracts and ancillary documents, to provide expert compliance advice and to support our clients with the acquisition and sale of villages and co-located facilities. 

We are the legal partner to the Retirement Living Council, the industry group contributing to national policy development, advocacy and public affairs for the retirement living sector.

Rosemary Southgate, Principal and Board Member, is a committee member on the Victorian Retirement Living Committee of the Property Council of Australia.

Russell Kennedy was named Australia's 2020 ‘Law Firm of the Year’ in the area of Retirement Villages and Senior Living Law by Best Lawyers. In addition, seven of our retirement Living lawyers were recognised on the 2023 Best Lawyers in Australia list; Principal Victor Harcourt was named 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for Retirement Villages and Senior Living Law in Melbourne. In 2020, Principal John Corcoran AM "Lawyer of the Year" for Retirement Villages and Senior Living Law.

Regulatory Compliance

We support our clients with comprehensive legislative compliance, governance and risk management advice across the different state jurisdictions in relation to the establishment, development and operation of retirement living communities.  We provide compliance training for our clients as and when new developments occur in the sector. 

Residence Contracts

We are recognised experts in preparing and advising on retirement living residence contracts.  We are at the forefront of legislative and policy change in this area and are often actively involved in assisting industry in making submissions to Government.
We assisted the Retirement Living Council with the preparation of the National Guide to Creating Simple and Effective Retirement Living Contracts, on a national basis.  

We have also provided a legal peer review of new residence contract structures implemented by national operators, and provided advice to residents as the independent legal advisor where an operator wishes to implement changes to their resident documentation.  This provides us with a unique understanding of the issues from a resident perspective, and the needs and desires of residents living in retirement communities.

Structuring advice

We are experts in providing advice as to the most appropriate legal structures for the acquisition, development and operation of retirement living communities, as well as resident tenure and financial models.  We work with our client’s accounting advisers in providing this advice.

The development of new financial models, as well as multiple offerings within a retirement community, is a growing trend which we have supported our clients to develop.

Conveyancing of Retirement Living Contracts

Our team specialises in conveyancing transactions for retirement living dwellings. We have an expert team of law clerks who work in this area to ensure the transactions are seamless and comply with the regulatory framework.  We also work to ensure that our clients’ residents have a good customer experience as they transition into retirement living.   

Mergers and Acquisitions

We act for retirement living owners and operators in the acquisition and divestment of operational and partially developed communities, including portfolios of villages and co-located facilities.  We support our clients with tailored advice regarding pre-sale documentation and corporate restructuring, due diligence, foreign investment approvals, corporate finance and capital raising, regulatory approval requirements and employment issues.

Landlease Communities

We provide regulatory compliance advice, and prepare resident contract materials for developers and operators of landlease communities.  The development of these communities is increasing across the sector, providing an alternative affordable accommodation model for retired persons. 

Home Care 

We help our retirement living clients to partner with home care providers for the delivery of care into their communities.  The recent legislative changes to this sector drove greater competition in the home care sector, and opportunities for retirement living operators to consider innovative service delivery to their residents.

Construction and Facilities Management

We advise clients on all aspects of building and construction law for retirement living developments. We help with the preparation and interpretation of construction contracts including tender documentation, minor works contracts, project management agreements, consultant agreements and subcontracts. We also provide trusted advice regarding facilities and building management, including health and safety obligations, environmental considerations and energy obligations.


We help our clients to meet their obligations under relevant privacy legislation including drafting privacy policies and procedures for handling data and complaints, providing training on privacy compliance, conducting privacy impact assessments and representing them during investigations of alleged privacy or data breaches. We also assist clients to respond to requests for access to client records.


We assist our clients with managing resident disputes including claims for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law, breaches of residence contracts and compliance breaches.  We provide strategic advice as to the merits of these disputes, overall outcome and impact on the wider resident community in acting for our clients in these matters.

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