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1 Buying sheltered housing

You can buy a sheltered housing property as you would a normal leasehold property. 

  • The Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) HousingCare website lists sheltered and retirement housing available to buy across the UK.
  • Many are advertised with local estate agents, as well as on property websites, such as

Most of the flats are sold on a leasehold basis, which means the property is sold with a long lease (usually around 125 years). Another person - the freeholder - owns the actual building and is responsible for the structure, exterior and communal areas.

Some areas have shared ownership schemes (also known as leasehold schemes for the elderly) to help people to buy who can’t afford the full market price of a sheltered housing property. Residents buy a share of the equity of the property and pay rent on the remainder. For more information about these schemes, contact Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC).

In Scotland, housing legislation is different both for buying and renting properties. In addition, most private retirement housing developments are managed by a management company or 'property factor', who will set and collect service charges. For more on this, see this factsheet from Age Scotland.

Expert advice: understanding terminology

Management company: Sheltered housing – its communal areas, services and facilities – are usually run by a management company. This might be a private company, council or housing association.

Residents’ Association: Some leasehold properties have residents’ associations that work with the management company to ensure residents’ views and needs are considered and addressed, where possible. This gives leaseholders a chance for their voices to be heard and their opinions to be taken into account. The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) can give more advice on this.