Elderly Australians seeking to enter retirement villages are increasingly butting up against capacity constraints as the industry battles to roll out stock fast enough to keep up with demand, new research has shown.

Released by the Property Council of Australia in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the latest Retirement Census shows that retirement villages throughout Australia are operating at 93 per cent capacity.

With the number of Australians aged 65 or older set to grow by five million over the next 40 years, the Property Council is warning that policy reform is needed to ensure the sector has the capacity to supply for everyone.

In a statement, Property Council of Australia executive director – Retirement Living Ben Myers said the sector across Australia is facing an ‘imminent capacity crisis’.

He called for urgent action at a state level to encourage new village development.

“While entry into retirement villages remains affordable, a lack of supply will put upward pressure on prices and make access to villages for seniors much harder,” he said. “Many existing homes just aren’t suitable for our seniors to ‘age in place’; often they are older, contain trip hazards and very difficult to maintain.

“There must be more housing options for senior Australians, especially in our biggest cities where demand is at its highest, so people can live independently for longer.”

Myers said the Council is conducting research into any planning barriers which are stifling the development of new centres.

According to the survey, retirement villages are pushing further into offering a more holistic range of services to wrap-around the needs of residents.

One-third of all villages are also an approved provider of home care whilst 91 per cent have community centres, 84 per cent organise regular community outings and social activities and two-thirds (68 per cent) allow residents to keep pets.

PwC Real Estate Advisory partner Tony Massaro said Australian cities are going to have to work harder for senior Australians as more live and work for longer.