There’s a time in everyone’s lives where we come to retire, be that an early retirement or way into your 60s or 70s. There also comes a point in which we can mostly live independently, but feel we need an extra bit of help from time to time and want it on hand when we need it. What is a solution for this?
Whether this be a retirement flat or bungalow, buying property in a retirement village can be a great combination of independent living and help when needed.
Maybe you’ve bought or inherited a retirement flat and don’t know what to do with it and are thinking ‘can you rent out a retirement flat?’ Well, we have the answers for you!
We’re going to explore all things retirement properties, whether that be discussing if they’re a good investment or looking at the best cities for retirement.
If you have a specific question, this menu will help you find it:
- What is a retirement property?
- Who can buy retirement property?
- Is buying a retirement flat a good investment?
- Can you rent out a retirement flat?
- Where is the best and cheapest places to retire?
What is a retirement property?
A retirement property is houses, bungalows and flats which are aimed at those who are retired, or of retirement age. The properties are aimed at those who can still live independently but may want to be able to get an extra bit of care, if and when they need it. Living in retirement properties also means one can live in an area of people of a similar age.
A lot of retirement properties are sold on a leasehold basis, with the leases generally having a long period of tenancy on them, for example 125 years. New build retirement properties now tend to come with a 999-year lease. This mainly applies to retirement flats, which is what we’re mainly going to be focusing on in this article.
In most retirement flats and properties, you have to pay a service charge, as your gardening, window cleaning, security and external work will be taken care of for you. Another charge you may face in retirement flats is ground rent. Ground rent is paid to the owner of the freehold, when you’ve bought the property as a leasehold, and you’re essentially paying for the land the building is on. This is because even though you own the property, you don’t own the land the property is on.
Charges will differ from scheme to scheme so make sure you ask before buying about all the charges, so you don’t get a nasty shock when a big bill turns up at your door.
Retirement properties offer many different options for purchasing, with one of the options being shared ownership. The shared ownership scheme on retirement properties is called Older People’s Shared Ownership scheme and doesn’t allow owning more than a 75% share of the property. But if you own a 75% share, this scheme means you don’t have to pay rent on the other 25%. To read more about the Older Person’s Shared Ownership scheme, click here.
Who can buy retirement property?
As you may expect, retirement properties aren’t available to anyone and you have to meet certain criteria to be able to buy a retirement property. The restrictions on buying retirement properties generally revolve around age, whether you want family staying with you, if you have a pet and how much care you need.
A lot of retirement sites allow family to visit but don’t want family staying with you regularly or for longer than 30 days. You also may not be allowed to take your furry friend with you, as they don’t want to disturb the peace of the other residents.
Do you have to be retired to live in a retirement home?
This may come as a surprise, but you don’t actually need to be retired to live in a retirement flat or property. Retirement properties are usually marketed at people who are aged 60 and over, but there are some with an age limit as low as 50 or 55.
You can actually live in a retirement flat or property and still be working, as long as you meet the age restrictions. If you’re in a couple, most retirement property sites, also known as ‘retirement villages’, will say only one member of the couple need to meet the age restrictions.
Is buying a retirement flat a good investment?
This will depend on the sort of investment you may be looking for. If you’re looking at retirement flats as an investment you hope will appreciate in value and earn you a profit after you’ve lived in it and are selling, then no, a retirement flat probably isn’t the investment for you. Most retirement flats tend to hold their value and therefore sell at a similar price to that of when you bought it.
If you’re looking at investing in retirement flats, not to live in yourself but to rent out, should the lease allow you to, this could be a worthwhile investment, especially with an aging population and people living longer. According to Retiremove, it’s estimated by 2023 nearly 1 in 4 people will be aged 65 and over, suggesting the demand for retirement flats and properties are only going to increase, meaning if you were to buy retirement flats and rent them out, they’re likely to always be occupied.
Buying a retirement flat could be seen as an investment into your happiness and lifestyle, rather than as a ‘money-making’ investment. Retirement flats allow independent living whilst also taking away the stress of needing help and not being able to get it, as help is always on hand. Living in a retirement flat also takes away any worries about having to do the gardening, window cleaning, external paint work, etc. Less worries and stress with the freedom of independent living = boosted happiness and better lifestyle. If you ask us, that sounds like an equation worth investing in.
Why are retirement flats not selling?
Selling retirement flats can actually be harder than selling a similar property on the wider market. This may be because there are age restrictions on who can live in it, making the pool of potential buyers smaller.
Also, potentially high service charges and ground rent will also play a part in retirement flats not selling, especially as these are charges which tend to rise over time. It’s always worth checking the agreement for payments on retirement flats, as it does affect the re-saleability.
The Guardian wrote an article on a man who inherited his father’s retirement flat, which was originally bought for £161,950 in 2007 and now he’s being offered just £28,000 for the property from a cash house buying company, with no interest from the open market. It details how the costs of ground rent and the service charge are so incredibly high, any potential buyer would have to spend almost all their state pension on those costs alone. Maybe a reason retirement flats aren’t selling?
Some developers, such as McCarthy & Stone, offer a re-sale service, but this isn’t guaranteed as mentioned in The Guardian article with McCarthy & Stone not allowing the retirement flat to participate in their re-sale scheme.
Retirement flats not selling may drive people to look at renting it out, which we’re going to get onto shortly…
Why are retirement properties cheaper to buy?
This is actually a misconception and you will generally find that retirement properties are actually more expensive to buy than a similar property on the wider market. This is because you’re paying for ‘luxury living’ as with retirement properties you’re not only paying for the property but for all the facilities that become available to you.
If you’re looking at retirement flats or properties which are classed as ‘extra care’ housing, this may have even more of a luxury price tag, as they offer 24-hour care, provide meals and can offer help with dressing and cleaning.
Do retirement homes hold their value?
Retirement flats and properties is a specialist market and your local estate agent probably won’t be able to achieve the same price for your 2-bed retirement flat as they could with a similar property on the market.
Having said this, there is often a shortage of good quality retirement flats and properties so if you’re wanting to sell a good quality retirement property in a good area, it should have held its value from when you bought it.
However, as mentioned in The Guardian article earlier, the inherited retirement flat has actually reduced in value as no one will buy it and ended up being offered a significant amount less to take off his hands. This may be due to over-paying for the property when it was initially bought so always be sure to check you’re not over-paying for a retirement flat or property which isn’t worth it, or its value will likely depreciate.
Can you rent out a retirement flat?
Whether you can rent out your retirement flat will be according to the lease. Most leases will likely state you can rent out your retirement flat but that you may need to notify the owner of the freehold and potentially pay a consent fee.
With retirement flats, there will also be restrictions on who the property can be rented out to. For example, anyone who rents the retirement flat will have to meet the age restrictions set on the retirement site, for example over 55. They may also not be allowed to have their family stay at the flat or have a pet, depending on the site rules.
Something to bear in mind if you are to rent out your retirement flat is that it’s often rent paid for the flat won’t cover the costs of running it, the service charge and the ground rent. This may result in the owner of the retirement flat having to cover the service charge and ground rent from their own pocket, meaning the flat still ends up costing rather than paying for itself, or making a profit.
Where is the best and cheapest places to retire?
Here we’ve got the top 15 best and cheapest cities in the UK for retirement, according to PensionBee. These have been decided upon by looking at house prices, access to healthcare, transport links, local amenities, parks and green spaces, safety and walkability.
- Brighton And Hove
- Newcastle Upon Tyne
If you’re wanting tips on how to find more affordable places within in area, it’s best to avoid places which have a well performing school nearby as these tend to increase the house prices in the area. It’s also best to avoid South-East cities and any commuter towns or tourist ‘hot spots’. These are all areas which will have higher house prices due to being in a more ‘desirable’ location.
Well, that’s everything you need to know about retirement flats and properties. AND the answer to the all-important question ‘can you rent out a retirement flat’. Got something you want to share with us? Maybe a story or another questions about retirement flats? No matter what it is, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in.