Trying to find a rental spot in a retirement setting is difficult because they're rarely offered, but other non-purchase options are available.
The topic comes at a time when women are becoming the fastest-growing group of people facing homelessness.
Chris Lockhart from Adelaide told The Senior she has rented all her life and while happily renting privately right now, has looked at options for rented retirement living in the future in case her capacity changes. Alas, the only stock she could find in SA was for socially-supported housing options that were income-assessed. She has too much in savings to qualify for social housing but not enough to pay for a deposit on a property, making her worried about her future. It's a situation the Retirement Living Council and its parent organisation, the Property Council of Australia, are aware of.
In the Property Council of Australia and PwC's retirement census 2021-22, two per cent of the villages surveyed across the country were rentals, while 57 per cent were loan lease, 27 per cent loan licence, 11 per cent strata/freehold and three per cent other.
Retirement Living Council executive director Daniel Gannon said of the limited supply of affordable rental accommodation for over 55s in Australia, most of it is in regional areas, where there is increasing pressure on housing affordability.
Operators have told the council it's hard to justify the cost of developing new rental stock in age-friendly communities as this type of housing does not get financial support through existing social or community housing schemes.
The council, as part of its recommendations listed in the report Retirement Living - A Solution for Older Women at Risk of Homelessness in March 2022, said a grant to incentivise developing affordable rental accommodation in age-friendly communities would lead to such housing being more available.
The report said in the past decade, there has been a 31 per cent increase in women who are homeless - the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia. It said there are few housing support services to assist older women who are renting, working and have modest savings or superannuation - a group referred to as the 'missing middle'. Such people have too much money to be eligible for social housing or rental assistance and too little money for home ownership.
"Without action, these women are likely to spend the remainder of their lives living lease-to-lease in homes that are not age-friendly, with rents escalating faster than indexed pensions and other fixed incomes," the report said.
The report's recommendations included changes to financial support even if someone lived in a retirement community setting - which sometimes exempted people from such assistance. The recommendations included government backed loans for women with equity, supporting affordability rental assistance, extending home care criteria to also include retirement settings. It also mentioned early access to superannuation without penalty - which could free up funds to getting into a retirement community - plus the aforementioned incentive to develop affordable rental accommodation in age-friendly communities.
SA Health told The Senior different legislation affects different accommodation types. For example, retirement villages, which offer a variety of models but mainly include a long-term lease or a licence to occupy a residence, are regulated by the Retirement Villages Act.
Land lease communities, sometimes called lifestyle communities, are regulated under the Residential Parks Act 2007. Residents buy a dwelling and rent the land it's located on and are responsible for maintaining their dwelling.
Rental villages for seniors, sometimes called lifestyle villages, give accommodation and basic meals under the Residential Tenancies Act 1995. The rent is usually a percentage of the pension, plus any rent assistance.
SA Health's Retirement Villages Unit also gives general advice and information about retirement villages and assists in resolving disputes between residents and operators.
The Retirement villages information booklet provides guidance for residents and prospective residents including what to consider when moving to, living in, or leaving a retirement village.
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