Does the UK Lack Suitable Housing for the Elderly?
The UK population aged 65 years and over is growing faster than other age groups according to the Office for National Statistics who predicts the over 65s will make up 26.2 per cent of the population by 2069.
However, a recent article in Property Mark highlighted that the UK lacks suitable housing for the over 65s – with only five per cent of over 65s living in specialist housing. This they say can compromise health and safety as they are living in inappropriate housing.
Nygel Scourfield, chief executive at retirement rentals brand My Future Living agrees but suggests there are options such as renting in a specialist retirement development that can give older people the opportunity to move somewhere more suitable for their age.
Mr Scourfield says, “We’re seeing growing demand for renting from retirees as it’s a good housing option for some, enabling them to downsize to an age-appropriate home that meets their needs as they are get older. Renting allows people to free up capital from the sale of a home, move to a more manageable property.
“People can live independently in a friendly and sociable retirement community, where the monthly rent includes services and maintenance. From a health and safety perspective, retirement developments are safe and secure with many apartments having an emergency Careline cord or button, plus a development manager on site during the day. Most of our retirement properties come with assured ‘lifetime’ tenancies also gives the same security of tenure as home ownership.”
When Diederik (Rik) Schmull, 77 years old decided to move out of London he found a two-bedroom retirement apartment through My Future Living at Homecove House in Westcliff-On-Sea. Rik is a Dutch born retired stockbroker who moved to the UK in 1979 and enjoyed a successful career for over 40 years.
He previously owned a flat in the Barbican but sold it in anticipation of returning to Amsterdam and moved into a rented flat in Canary Wharf. However, work commitments kept him in London. After he retired, Rik wanted to move out of the city and looked for a rental apartment in a retirement community close to the sea.
Rik explains, “I was still very active and busy with meetings and events in London, so I wanted to be close enough to get there easily. I did lots of research and went to visit Homecove House. It was ideal. It’s close to the beach and there are lots of amenities, but I can get into London in an hour. It’s the best of both worlds.
Homecove House is a large retirement community with 141 one and two-bedroom apartments for people aged 60 years and above. Communal facilities include a garden that looks over the beach, a lounge and two hobby rooms.
Rik loves that renting is flexible and should he decide to move back to Amsterdam, he can do so quickly and easily. He was attracted to renting in a retirement community because of the assured tenancy which means that as long as he sticks to the terms of his agreement he can live in the development for as long as he wishes.
He says, “The assured tenancy was a real benefit for me. Having rented a few places on shorthold tenancies before, I ended up having to move twice at short notice. I didn’t want that to happen again, especially as I’m getting older. Having the security of tenure that I can stay as long as I want is really reassuring.”
He enjoys being part of a community. He says, “There are a lot of people in the development and I’ve made friends with some of them. During the pandemic when we couldn’t go anywhere it was reassuring that I had people close by, so I never felt isolated or alone.”
Rik highly recommends renting in a retirement community. He says, “For me it’s worked out really well and I’m very happy. It’s all about independent living but with the reassurance there is help available should you need it. They do keep an eye on people especially those that live alone. Old age comes to us all, and at some point it’s a sensible choice to live in a retirement community.”