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Learn about funding options for home care, home adaptations and care homes, together with Attendance Allowance, gifting assets and Power of Attorney.
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Consider your options and learn about sheltered housing, retirement villages and care homes.
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Pros and cons of sheltered housing

Sheltered housing can be a great option, but is it right for you? Our checklist of benefits and drawbacks offers guidance to help you decide.
3 min read
In this article
The benefits of sheltered housing The drawbacks of sheltered housing Downsizing checklists

The benefits of sheltered housing

There are many benefits to sheltered housing – we list the main ones here.

Checklist (ticks)
  • Independent living: the freedom to live independently in a safe environment.

  • Reassurance: an alarm system in case of emergencies, and some schemes offer daily checks on residents.

  • Support: help and advice is available if needed.

  • Flexibility: there may be the option to rent or purchase through shared ownership.

  • Financial help: if you’re on a low income, Housing Benefit may cover some or all of the rent. For those eligible for Pension Credit, some support with meeting the cost of service charges may also be available.

  • Living with a partner: you have the option to remain with your husband/wife/civil partner, which might not be possible with other care options.

  • Making friends: opportunities to socialise with other residents of a similar age.

  • Enjoyment of communal areas: with no responsibility to maintain gardens or facilities.

  • No hassles with repairs or maintenance: if you’re renting, then your landlord is likely to be responsible for repairs to your property and the maintenance of communal areas. If you’ve purchased your property, your lease will specify what your maintenance and repair responsibilities are, although it’s likely that the scheme manager will be responsible for repairs and maintenance to the exterior of your property and the communal areas.

  • Safety and security: often, residents in sheltered housing feel safer than living alone.

  • Legal protection: if renting, you usually have the protection of tenants’ rights, as you would with any rental property. Read more on Which? Money about the legal issues around an assured shorthold tenancy (AST).

  • Resale value: if you purchase a retirement property, then your home can be sold on later, inherited by family or, if necessary, used to pay for care.


For greater detail, read our article on five reasons to consider sheltered housing.

Use our calculator to find out how much you might pay a home care agency in your area and what financial support is available.

The drawbacks of sheltered housing

Sheltered housing can vary, so it’s important to be aware of its limitations and ongoing costs, too. 

Checklist (crosses)
  • Service charges: if you’ve bought a property, you’ll have to pay service charges on top of usual ongoing housing costs. Service charges can be higher for sheltered housing than for other leasehold properties, to cover the cost of services such as the scheme manager and an alarm system. Read more in additional costs of sheltered housing.

  • No medical care: most schemes won’t take people who require regular nursing care or who have demanding needs. They may also refuse to accept new residents who have existing personal care needs. However, you could consider extra care housing if you’re looking for sheltered housing with care and support included.

  • Limited choice: there may be a limited choice of schemes in your preferred area, particularly if you’re on a social housing list.

  • Rules: residents have to live by the rules of the scheme, which may, for example, restrict noise or forbid pets.

  • Reduced space: if residents are downsizing from a larger property, there may not be space for all their possessions and furniture.

  • Bills: residents still have to pay the bills for their own properties (such as council tax, water, gas and electricity), which might make it more difficult to budget.

  • Variations in services: scheme managers (wardens) rarely live onsite. Some might only be there part-time. It’s important to check what's on offer.

My parents decided to look at sheltered housing because then they could live independently but have some backup.

Downsizing checklists

Moving to sheltered housing might mean that you're downsizing and maybe also moving to another area. Download our downsizing checklists for ideas about what to consider.

Downsizing checklists
(pdf 49 Kb)


Further reading

What is sheltered housing?

How do you choose suitable sheltered housing, and what facilities do they offer? Our guide explains your options.

Buying sheltered housing

We look at how to buy sheltered accommodation, what protection buyers have, understanding leaseholds and charges.

Last updated: 24 Feb 2020