Retirement & sheltered housing

Retirement & sheltered housing

Selected guidance on sheltered accommodation in descending order of complexity. We will be updating this section periodically.

Basic information on sheltered housing

Sheltered, retirement or warden-assisted housing are all terms used to describe accommodation provided specifically for elderly people. Schemes usually have the services of a warden or scheme manager, though increasingly this person lives off site, or the service is provided as ‘floating support’, with periodic visits from a member of staff. Each property will have an alarm system so the resident can summon help in an emergency.


Sheltered housing is usually designed with good levels of heating, and increasingly with doorways wide enough for walking frames and wheelchairs. Most schemes also have a common room for social activities, and many have additional facilities such as a communal laundry and a guest suite, and often a shared garden.


Sheltered housing provides privacy and independence, but with the reassurance of knowing help can be summoned if necessary, and the possibility of socialising with other people who are retired.

To rent or to buy, or to part-buy

Sheltered housing can be rented or purchased on a leasehold basis, and a small number of schemes offer shared ownership options. Sheltered housing to rent is usually provided by local councils and housing associations (social landlords), but as there is often greater demand than availability, there are likely to be allocation criteria and waiting lists. Often home owners and those in a position to buy may be given a lower priority than those who do not have this option. There is a very limited amount of sheltered housing to rent through private or commercial providers. They do not operate waiting lists and priority schemes in the way social landlords do, but their rents may be above the level at which Local Housing Allowance is paid.

Factsheets on sheltered housing

More information on sheltered housing

EACs Housing Options for Older People Tool (HOOP)