Renting sheltered housing

woman in her home

Retirement (sheltered) housing is intended specifically for older people, usually over 55 or 60. The housing tends to be in a scheme of about 20 to 40 self-contained flats or bungalows. There is almost always an alarm system. Most schemes have a scheme manager (warden).

Opportunities to rent in private retirement housing are limited; however, you can contact the Elderly Accommodation Counsel’s FirstStop Advice service for details of those that are available. Most rented sheltered housing is provided by housing association and local councils and demand for this type of accommodation may be high in some parts of the country. Both local councils and housing associations aim to assist people in greatest need and they will set criteria describing which applicants have the most priority. In general you will need to show that:


  • you have a housing need because of the physical condition of your present home; or
  • you have medical or social reasons for wanting to move, such as poor health, disability, isolation from friends and family; and
  • you are not able to buy rather than rent; and
  • you have a good reason for wanting to move to the area you apply for (if you are not local already) – for example, you want to be near to family or close friends.

If you are already a tenant of a council or housing association you should first approach your landlord and ask for a transfer. To apply for council or housing association sheltered accommodation, contact your local housing department. All local authorities’ and housing associations’ properties are normally allocated through the local authority’s allocation scheme although some housing associations may rent directly to applicants depending on their allocation policy.

 Our factsheet Specialist housing for older people contains a range of further information, including:


  • Points to consider when choosing the right type of sheltered housing for you.
  • Scheme managers or wardens.
  • Service charges and charges for support services.
  • Extra care sheltered housing.
Advice line:
08000 223 444

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