Top tips for purchasing a retirement flat

By Shelby Powell

Retirement flats and apartments are a popular buy, and many schemes offer sheltered accommodation arrangement for the over 60’s, so that there is a manager available on the premises either part or full-time. This is an attractive feature, offering individuals freedom and independent living but with the added benefit of peace of mind, especially in an emergency situation.

We have compiled some useful tips and information for prospective purchasers of these retirement packages:-

Retirement flats are sold with leasehold titles

When contemplating buying a flat, you should ensure there is at least 80 years unexpired term of the lease available.It is possible to request a lease extension, but you will need to factor in the premium payable and the landlord’s solicitors fees. Leases with an unexpired term of less than 80 years can be expensive to extend. You do not get an automatic right to extend the lease until you have owned the flat for at least 2 years.

Regular outgoings

Make sure you only commit to the transaction once you have all the relevant information in respect of the costs of living in sheltered accommodation. Expect to pay Ground Rent (unless you are being offered a new lease) and service charges.Not every scheme will allow you to pay monthly.Frequently these fees are paid every quarter in advance.

The Landlord or their managing agent must provide you with details of the predicted budget for the year ahead, as well as the current levels of charges so it should be relatively easy for you to budget ahead.

Unexpected or hidden costs

What will not be included in the budget will be unexpected costs such as major repairs to the building. However, a well-managed scheme will factor this into their figures and create a contingency fund for both planned and unexpected major repairs so that tenants do not have to dig too deep into their pockets. Should we be aware of a major expense coming up, we can ask for a retention sum from your seller to cover any shortfall you may be asked to pay. Landlords do need to give tenants notice of any larger sums likely to be invoiced (referred to as a section 20 Notice) and there is a consultation process with tenants.

As part of our checks will request the key financial information from the landlord and report to you anything which is out of the ordinary which you need to be aware of.

Sale fees

These are a frequent feature of retirement schemes which require you to pay a transfer fee on a subsequent sale of your flat. The amount can vary depending on which Landlord running the retirement scheme.

Here at Christopher Davidson Solicitors LLP, we feel it is important that you are fully supported and adequately advised for any purchase you make. We understand when circumstances change you may need to assess your housing arrangements and we are here to represent you and your interests.

To find out more about how Christopher Davidson Solicitors LLP can help you with Retirement Purchases and Conveyancing Services please call us on 01242 581481 or email