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4 Renting sheltered housing

The private rental market for sheltered housing is very small as the vast majority of schemes are owned by councils, housing associations or local charities. However, there are a handful of sheltered housing schemes that are privately owned with properties to rent on a private basis at a market rate (contact Elderly Accommodation Counsel for details of these schemes in your area).

You may also be able to identify retirement properties that are currently available to rent privately from an individual landlord. Often the owner has vacated the property but does not wish to sell and has therefore chosen to let the property out to help cover the service charges that they, as a leaseholder, will be responsible for paying. Local estate agents are likely to have details of such vacancies. There is also a national company, called Girlings, that purchase individual sheltered housing properties within developments and then let these on a private basis.

Finally, although not strictly a private rental, you may wish to make enquiries with local charities (known as Almshouses) who are likely to set their own eligibility criteria for applications to live in one of their properties. If you meet these criteria, their waiting lists are often a lot shorter than those belonging to councils and housing associations.

Most people renting sheltered accommodation – whoever they are renting from – will be tenants as opposed to holding a licence to occupy a property. Tenants are protected in two main ways.

1. Tenancy agreement

As a tenant you will have to sign a tenancy agreement which details your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of the landlord/management organisation. Once you have both signed this, it is legally binding. 

Your tenancy is likely to be either an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, which are often fixed for a period of six to twelve months, or an Assured Tenancy, which give you a greater security of tenure as a tenant. If you rent from an Almshouse or Abbeyfield property, then you are likely to have a licence, which gives you very limited protection from eviction and generally does not have a fixed term.

2. The legal right to keep your home

The law gives assured tenants the right to keep their home. Landlords must follow a set process and obtain a court order if they want you to leave, and this can take a long time.

There are different types of tenancies. If you’re not sure which type the sheltered housing scheme is offering, then you will need to seek advice. See this page on the Which? website for an explanation about the different types of tenancies.

Page last reviewed: July 2016
Next review due: August 2018