How do I rent 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.
To rent sheltered housing on a private basis you can:
- make enquiries with Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC), which can advise on sheltered housing schemes in your area that are for rent on a private basis
search for retirement properties that are available to rent privately from an individual landlord; owners may have vacated the property but don't wish to sell and are therefore letting the property out to help cover the service charges that they, as a leaseholder, will be responsible for paying
go to local estate agents, who are likely to have details of such vacancies – there is also a national company, called Girlings, that purchases sheltered housing properties within developments and lets them privately
research into almshouses (run as local charities), which set their own eligibility criteria for applicants 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.
What protection is there for sheltered housing tenants?
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.
As a tenant you will have to sign a tenancy agreement that 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 is often fixed for a period of six to 12 months, or an Assured Tenancy, which gives you a greater security of tenure as a tenant. If you rent from an almshouse or Abbeyfield Property then you’re likely to have a licence, which gives you very limited protection from eviction and generally doesn’t have a fixed term.
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. The Which? Money guide to tenancy agreements gives details about the different types of tenancies.
For advice on tenants’ rights and housing provision, contact the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) to find your nearest advice centre.
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