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Specifically built for older adults to buy or rent, sheltered housing is similar to retirement housing, but offers more conventional property options and is usually aimed at a smaller number of residents.
The main goal of sheltered housing is to allow older or disabled people to remain independent, while still having access to help and support whenever it’s needed. If you or your loved one have an accident, round-the-clock support staff will quickly be on hand to aid and assist.
In this article, we’ve looked at what sheltered housing is, how much it costs, advantages and disadvantages, and the different options to rent or buy.
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Sheltered housing refers to purpose-built property developments with extra support for older people. Properties could be one, two or three bedrooms in the form of a flat, apartment, retirement bungalow or something similar. They’re self-contained, meaning you’re able to live independently in them (though staff can still provide support if required).
One of the main reasons for older adults moving into sheltered housing is the onsite help that caters to whatever needs residents may have. This includes:
Round-the-clock care and personal care services are usually offered as well. Rooms will often have emergency alarm systems so help can be quickly provided.
There’s usually a minimum age requirement - often 55 and over. This varies from development to development though. The minimum age could be slightly higher e.g. 60+ or 65+.
Here are some of the common features you can expect to find in the majority of sheltered living developments:
Though sheltered housing is usually rented through a council or similar organisation, it’s more commonly privately bought.
This type of supported living is typically sold on a leasehold in the UK. Though in Scotland, it’s sold as a freehold, meaning you’ll outright own the property and the land it’s built on.
If you’re considering purchasing a leasehold property, be sure to check if there are any deferred management fees and if there are any clauses that would make it difficult to sell or leave to somebody in your will.
Though sheltered housing isn’t linked to the Care Quality Commission or Care Inspectorate, there are some things you can check for assurance and to know you’re entering into a respectable scheme, including:
If you need anything clarifying, the Elderly Accommodation Counsel can provide information surrounding sheltered housing, including things like shared ownership schemes.
Renting is the much more common method for living in sheltered housing, rather than buying.
When renting sheltered housing, there are two main options:
We’ve gone over these two methods for renting sheltered housing below.
Most sheltered housing is available to rent through organisations like local councils, charities and housing organisations.
When renting this way, you might be placed on a fairly long waiting list. Exactly how long you’ll have to wait partially depends on how much of a priority you’re classed as. Priority is based on things like whether you have a long-term illness or if you need to move because of a disability. Councils usually have documents explaining their housing allocation schemes - and you’re entitled to ask for one of these.
Rent will be set at an affordable rate - often below that of normal market prices in your area.
Though much less, some sheltered housing can be privately rented. When you rent privately, there isn’t normally a huge amount of criteria you have to meet. Often, the only piece of criteria is a minimum age threshold - most commonly 55+ or 60+.
The big advantage of privately rented sheltered housing is shorter waiting times.
The nature of private renting means there’s a good chance you’ll pay more when heading down this route. Rent is normally paid at a similar rate to similar properties in your area.
One of the easiest ways to find and apply for sheltered housing is through GOV.UK. All you need to do is enter your postcode and you’ll be directed to your borough council or local council website. From there, you can enquire about what options are available locally.
You can also use Housing Care’s directory to find sheltered housing across the UK.
Sheltered housing can either be rented or purchased (with renting being the more common option). Providers of sheltered accommodation include local councils or authorities, charities, housing associations and private organisations.
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