Retirement housing needs radical review - Age UK
Published on 31 October 2012 03:00 PM
Age UK has released a new report warning that retirement housing must undergo wide-ranging improvements if older people are to see it as a practical and attractive option for later life.
The ‘Making it Work for Us' report (PDF, 1MB) is based on the experiences of older people currently living in social and private retirement housing.
The report argues there is a need for more regulation within the private retirement sector and more rights and support for residents to take over the management of their properties.
The report identifies particular problems associated with the leasehold structure and management of private retirement homes, such as overcharging, exit fees and unclear contracts.
It comes days after MPs and worried residents held a meeting at the House of Commons regarding concerns over private retirement homes.
Retirement housing should meet accessibility standards
In a series of recommendations, the report calls on the Government to provide incentives for new retirement developments to be based on a ‘commonhold' model which offers shared freehold ownership and makes it easier for residents to appoint their own management company.
In addition it calls for specialist training for advice workers, solicitors and managing agents dealing with retirement housing.
The report also highlights concerns over the poor design of retirement housing, such as lack of wheelchair accessibility and car parking provision. It calls for all retirement homes to comply with the Lifetime Homes Standard and also allow for two bedrooms to provide space for carers and family members.
Rising costs are making affordability concerning
The affordability of sheltered and retirement housing is another key concern, with residents reporting dramatic increases in rents, service charges and management fees, alongside state funding cuts. The report argues for greater investment in good quality sheltered housing and more transparency around management charges in private housing to ensure people know what they are paying for.
Joe Oldman, Age UK's housing policy officer, said, 'When the time is right, making the move into more suitable housing can bring many benefits to older people such as improving health, staying independent for longer and preventing isolation. But this report clearly shows the current state of retirement housing doesn't reflect older people's needs, and puts people off considering it as an option.
'Age UK is calling on the Government to launch a review of retirement and sheltered housing in order to build an ambitious vision of retirement housing. The lack of good quality housing options for older people means that some who would like to "downsize" have no choice but to stay living in their family homes, even if these homes no longer really meet their needs.'