The Legal Side Of Retirement Housing

Leaseholder rights, lease agreements, ARHM and NHBC

If you or a relative is considering moving into retirement housing then there a few legal matters it is well worth being aware of, on top of the usual legalities of buying a home. This will help you avoid any little surprises and ensure you’ve made an informed decision.
 

First, be aware of your Leaseholder legal rights.


As with many flats, a large proportion of retirement housing is sold on a leasehold rather than a freehold basis. That means you own the property, but not the land it is built on. Being a leaseholder gives you a number of legal rights related to your property for example:
  • You have the right to request information from your freeholder and management companies regarding things like service charges and expenditure
  • You have the right to challenge any service charges you are asked to pay and any question any other management decisions and arrangements. You should check service charges before progressing with your property purchase. Find out what you will be charged, how often and on what grounds those charges can be increased
  • You have the right to acquire the freehold for the building
  • You have the right to take over the management of the building yourself

LEASE specialise in advice and information for leaseholders, and you can find a wealth of advice guides, podcasts and case studies on their website if you need any more information.
 

Second: Check Your Lease Agreement


Make sure you read your lease agreement fully before you progress with the sale and it becomes legally binding. It may even be worth paying a solicitor to check the lease agreement on your behalf before moving ahead with the property purchase, so they can explain any clauses you don’t understand.

The lease agreement details the legally binding terms of the contract between the leaseholder and the management company. That means it will directly impact you as the leaseholder, so you must understand it and knowingly agree to it.
 

Three: Find Out if Your Management Agency Is a Member of the ARHM


The Association of Retirement Housing, or ARHM, have a Code of Practice, which regulates managing agents who look after leasehold retirement housing and all management organisations that are members of the ARHM are bound by this code.

A good tip is to ask if the management company who will be responsible for managing your leasehold is a member of ARHM, as this can avoid any difficulties and reduce the need for you to enforce your legal rights due to dissatisfaction.
 

Four: Find Out if Your Developer Is a Member of the NHBC


You should also find out if your property has been built by a member of the National House Building Council or NHBC. New homes built by registered NHBC property developers and home builders have the benefit of the NHBC’s 10 Year Warrant, which you learn more about here.

There is also an NHBC Sheltered Housing Code of Practice, which applies to all retirement housing built since 1st April 1990, which stipulated that there must be a legally binding contract between the developer and the management organisation, to protect the residents’ rights.
 

Five: Remember Age UK Can Help


If you ever find yourself in a difficult situation with your housing providers, Age UK may be able to help by offering mediation services to help work through any problems. If you have a problem or enquiry regarding retirement housing, you can call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 6565 for impartial advice, information and casework.

To find out more about how Age UK can help with retirement living situations, we recommend you read LEASE’s Guide to Leasehold in the Retirement Sector, which was a joint production by Age UK, LEASE and the ARHM.

Publish date: 08/09/2017