Frequently asked questions


Many people decide to buy into retirement housing due to the desire to downsize from, what is often, the family home. This move can release some capital whilst also providing a method of investing your assets into another property. However, as nearly all retirement housing to buy is only available on a leasehold basis, there are some key differences that you should be aware of when buying your new home.

Our factsheet on buying a retirement property talks you through the process of buying an age-exclusive home and highlights some of the main issues to consider and questions to ask.​

With regards to searching for leasehold retirement housing in your area, you may wish to begin by using the search facility on our website. When you view details for any of the developments listed on HousingCare you will find contact details for the managing agents, who can provide you with further information. For some developments on our website you may also find information on current properties that are for sale.Most retirement housing and housing-with-care for rent is provided by local authorities and housing associations, but there are some charitable and private sector providers. Landlords generally aim to offer their housing to people in the greatest housing need, at rents which are affordable – perhaps with the help of Housing Benefit. They set criteria describing who qualifies for their housing and which applicants have the highest priority.

Many councils and housing associations have changed the way they allocate properties, and now operate joint application procedures; most have also introduced a system called ‘choice based lettings’, which involves ‘bidding’ for properties advertised weekly or fortnightly.

As the majority of retirement housing to rent is allocated through the local council’s ‘choice based lettings’ system, we would recommend that you contact the housing department of your local council in the first instance, to enquire about their eligibility criteria for joining their housing list. If you are looking to move to a different area from the one that you are currently living, then you will need to approach the council for the area you wish to move to, however if you are not already resident in the area it can be more difficulty to qualify for council housing.

As well as applying to the local council you may also wish to try contacting the following landlords of local retirement housing:


  • Housing Associations
  • Charities (such as Almshouses and Abbeyfields)
  • Private landlords

You can search for retirement housing to rent in your area by using the search facility on our website. For each development you should find that we have provided the name of the managing agents and a contact telephone number and/or an option to email them. You can search for accommodation on our website here.

For more information about your options you may wish to read our information guide Housing and care options for older peopleYou may wish to begin by approaching your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA), these are not for profit organisations often set up by local councils, housing associations and charities. Their role is to help older homeowners, and sometimes tenants, with makes repairs, improvements and adaptations. As well as arranging for the work to be carried out they can also help you to identify any financial assistance that may be available to cover the cost.

You can search for your local Home Improvement Agency on our home services directory.

If you are just looking for a trusted local tradesperson then you might also wish to make enquiries with your local HIA. Alternatively TrustMark is a government backed scheme to help people find trusted tradespeople. You can view their website here.

For more information on help and suggestions to keep you living independently at home you may wish to read our factsheet on Remaining Independent.We would suggest that you begin by viewing the various resources that are available on the website for the Independent Park Homes Advisory Service.

You might also find of interest an information factsheet published by Age UK entitled, Park Homes.

Finally, the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) provide a ‘Park Homes Advice Service’. Their website provides access to a range of advice guides based on current legislation and guidance. You can find out more here.There are a range of services that may be available to help you at home, our national advice service receive a lot of calls from older people and their families concerned about how best to maintain their independence. Some of the most common tasks that people might benefit from having some support with are:

  • Household tasks and gardening
  • Getting out and about
  • Shopping
  • Managing bills and personal affairs
  • Maintaining contact with friends, family and social networks
  • Meal preparation
  • Managing personal care

You may wish to begin by reading through our information factsheet Living Longer: Remaining Independent which provides some general information on where to find services to support you with the issues above and other common queries surrounding:

  • Telecare (also known as community alarms)
  • Carer responsibilities

Finally, you may wish to use the Home Services database on our website to search for local ‘home help’ services for older people.

It is understandable to feel quite bewildered at the number of different terms that get used, there are dozens of different descriptions that are used by different companies to describe their housing developments.

On our website we categorise developments into one of five categories:


  • Age Exclusive: developments that cater exclusively for older people, usually incorporate design features helpful to older people, and may have communal facilities such as a residents’ lounge, guest suite and shared garden, but do not provide any regular on-site support to residents.


  • Retirement/sheltered: this means having your own flat or bungalow in a block, or on a small estate, where all the other residents are older people (usually over 55). With a few exceptions, all developments provide independent, self-contained homes with their own front doors.


  • Enhanced sheltered: provides residents with the independence of having their own front door whilst also having access to additional on-site support services. Most developments will have a scheme manager and an alarm system in the property, there may also be some personal care and home help services that can be arranged by the management.


  • Extra care: designed to provide the varying levels of care and support people may need in later life. People who live in Extra Care Housing have their own self-contained homes, their own front doors and a legal right to occupy the property. Extra Care Housing is also often called ‘assisted living’.


  • Close care: a relatively new concept and consist of independent flats or bungalows built on the same site as a care home. Residents often have some services (such as cleaning) included in their service charge and other services can be purchased from the care home.


Most frequently the age requirement, for specialist housing for older people, is 60 years of age. This age requirement can be lower or higher depending on the eligiblity criteria set by the housing provider.

For couples where only one member is over the qualifying age, this will often be sufficient for the couple to meet the age requirements. However, it is uncommon for these exceptions to be made where an older person wishes to live with their children, who do not meet the age requirements, or a younger carer.[/vc_tta_accordion]