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Frequently Asked Questions About Retirement Living

Posted 5 October 2022 by Keith Osborne

WhatHouse? answers the most common questions about having a property in a dedicated retirement development...

We answer the most commonly asked questions about acquiring a new home on a dedicated retirement development.

Is there a minimum or maximum age to buy a retirement living apartment?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for a minimum age for occupants. While not retirement homes per se, there are numerous ‘age-exclusive’ (sometimes referred to as ‘lifestyle living’) developments where homes residents need only be 55-years-old, but these comprise of private residences without communal facilities.

Generally speaking, the minimum age is related to the level of independent lifestyle that is catered for. If residents are not expecting on-site care services, the minimum age is frequently 55 or 60. For developments offering ‘extra care’ in the form of tailor-made domestic and medical care services for residents, the minimum age is usually 70.

The age limit usually applies to everyone living in the property. Both partners living in a property would have to be over the minimum age, but parents in their 60s would not be able to have a son or daughter aged 30 as a permanent ‘lodger’.

There’s not a maximum age for retirement property purchasers or renters.

It is recommended you consult with the developer’s sales and marketing team to clarify the rules applicable to the property you are considering.

Why are there age limits on the lease requirements?

This is often a requirement of council planning departments, and meeting a government policy designed to create purpose-built housing for older people. You should note that this requirement is only for the person or people who will be living in the apartment, and that no such limit exists for the person who purchases it. So if you wished to purchase an apartment for your parent or parent, you do not need to be over 55 or 60.

Are these developments retirement villages?

Not all developments are retirement villages. That term is common in the United States, where there are large communities with up to several hundred homes exclusively for retired people, usually located away from urban areas. These retirement villages provide a wide range of facilities for recreation and socialising.

Many UK retirement developments are located in or near town centres, making them ideal for people who do not drive or who wish to remain close to facilities such as hospitals, leisure opportunities, and shops. These developments are typically much smaller than a retirement village, too. This tends to be more appealing for residents who prefer to live in a community of retired people, but who still wish to remain connected to the wider community.

Can you rent a retirement flat?

Many new build retirement developments offer a rental option, and some a ‘part buy-part rent’ option.

There are a number of reasons why renting a new home might be the best option. New build homes always benefit form being low maintenance, since everything is brand new and used when you move in, but with renting, there’s the further security of knowing that whatever goes wrong, it’s the landlord that takes the responsibility and hassle of getting things fixed.

Your rent, service charge and ground rent are combined into one payment, simplifying your financial management. Sometimes, the service charge may include all the utility bills too, making things even simpler. You can use all the facilities at the development , the same as you would as an owner.

Renting offers great flexibility and security. With an Assured Tenancy Agreement, you can sign up for a long-term period (usually five years or more, though often for the rest of your life), so you know that you won’t suddenly be asked to leave by the landlord. But if you find that it’s not the right property for you, you can move out without the stress and strains of putting an owned property back on the market to find a buyer.

Another option at some developments is ‘rent to buy’, where you can move in straightaway and pay rent for a time while you sell your old property, after which you can pay for the new home and be its outright owner.

With part buy-part rent, you can purchase a percentage of the property (usually starting at 50%) and pay rent on the rest. You will have the rights and responsibilities of being a property owner and you will be free to sell whenever you want. You’ll also have the ability to purchase further shares in the future, up to 100% ownership. Buying a fraction of the property means that you may free up some of the cash you get from selling your previous home.

Can I buy a retirement property for my parents?

Most commonly, there are no restrictions of the age of the purchaser, as long as the ‘tenants’ meet the minimum age terms. There are some disadvantages to buying a dedicated retirement property: their value often decreases considerably when it comes to selling; you’ll still be responsible for monthly service charges even when it’s empty; and there may be special ‘exit fees’ to pay to the developer when it is sold. All buyers should consider these terms carefully before opting to buy.

Can I rent out my retirement home?

Owners should carefully check the terms and conditions of their purchase but in most cases, as long as the tenant meets the age-limit requirements, it shouldn’t be a problem. But as investment properties, dedicated retirement homes lack many of the benefits of other homeownership due to depreciation in value and other associated costs when it is empty and when it comes to selling.


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