About 200 people living in Hawkes Bay retirement villages are still to claim hundreds of dollars in rate rebates, following the introduction of new rules worth an extra $10.75 a week to some pensioners.
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 entitled to apply for a rebate.
However, since its introduction five months ago, only 21 people - all from the same retirement village - have so far applied for a rebate, across the whole of Hawke's Bay.
A spokeswoman for Hastings District Council said, to date, the council had processed 21 rebates (from the Hastings Masonic).
"The value of the rebates processed to date is $11,732 - averaging $559 per rebate."
The council held regular meetings with retirement village operators over the past six months to make people aware of their rights.
"The larger operators (Summerset, Gracelands and Mary Doyle) have now collated their occupants lists and established their share of the rates.
"Council officers are due to commence visits to the these operators from next week, to complete and process individual rate rebate applications."
However, the situation in Napier was not as clear-cut for village residents.
A spokesman for Napier City Council said so far it had not received any applications for rebates from retirement village residents.
"We are working with each village to arrange our rates staff to visit and process applications in bulk. The villages we have spoken to are still preparing the declarations required by the Department of Internal Affairs.
"The retirement village eligibility is a new inclusion in legislation effective for the year started July 1, 2018. The Napier City Council rates team have contacted the registered retirement villages that may be eligible by telephone and have emailed information along with the application and declaration forms."
Central Hawke's Bay District Council chief executive Monique Davidson said the district did not have any retirement village residents living in a licence to occupy unit, which would be needed to qualify for the rebate.
Previously, licence to occupy village residents could not claim a rebate, even though they paid rates through a weekly fee, because they were not the named ratepayer on the bill - that was the retirement village operator.
Retirement Villages Association executive director John Collyns said nationally between 15 and 20 per cent of all village residents would be eligible.
"I see Hastings District Council is being proactive with the major operators, which is great.
"Hastings Masonic has 76 LTO units (plus 10 rentals) so 21 rebates represents 28 per cent of that village.
"At an average rebate of $559, that's an additional $10.75 a week.
"We have 1087 units across our members in Hawkes Bay (which is 94% of the numbers) and 20 per cent of that is 217 units/residents who we would expect to be eligible."
The rebate was judged on a sliding scale - "so, the higher the rates and the lower the income, the more money you get".
"We're talking hundreds of dollars, which for people just on a benefit this is a significant thing."
The criteria was income-based with all rebates going directly to residents. Village operators did not get anything.
DIA guidelines state people resident in a retirement village from July 2 this year, still have until June 30, 2019 to apply for this year's rebate.
Eligible residents are required to fill out an application form, and provide a declaration certificate completed by their village operator.