Retirement living is a housing and lifestyle choice for older adults who want to enjoy their independence, comfort and community. However, not everyone understands what retirement living really means. That’s why we have compiled a list of common questions and answers to help you learn more about this option.

About retirement living

What is retirement living? 

Retirement living is a type of housing option, usually for people aged 60 and over, who want to live independently in purpose-built, low-maintenance accomodation that is designed to help them live later life well. For peace of mind, some retirement housing developments offer the option of onsite care and support packages that are tailored to the needs of residents, if and when required.

Learn more about retirement living on our 'What is retirement living?' webpage >

What are the benefits of retirement living? 

Retirement living can offer many benefits, such as:

  • More security and peace of mind
  • Purpose-built housing the needs of older people in mind
  • Low-maintence lifestyle
  • Increased social interaction and activities
  • Enhanced wellbeing and quality of life
  • Flexibility and choice.
What’s the difference between a retirement housing and retirement housing with care facility? 

The difference between a retirement housing and a retirement housing with care facility is that the latter offers more support and services for older people who need or want some assistance with their daily living activities.

Retirement housing is a type of housing option for older people who can live independently but may benefit from some security and social interaction.

Retirement housing with care, also known as assisted living or extra-care housing, is a type of housing option for older people who have one or more care or support needs and may require help with tasks such as washing, dressing, going to the toilet or taking medication.

Retirement housing with care facilities usually have staff available 24 hours a day to provide personal care and support services, as well as communal facilities and social activities. Retirement housing with care facilities are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, whereas retirement housing facilities are not.

Tenure options

What are the different tenure options for retirement living? 

There are three main tenure options for retirement living: renting, buying, and shared ownership. Renting allows you to pay a monthly fee that covers rent, service charge, and wellbeing charge. Buying allows you to purchase the property outright or with a mortgage. Shared ownership allows you to buy a share of the property and pay a reduced rent on the remaining share.

Can I rent a retirement property? 

We offer a range of tenures throughout our 67 schemes, such as leasehold, rental and shared ownership. You are able to rent properties at over 50 of our schemes.

Are retirement properties available on a shared ownership basis? 

Shared ownership is available at some of our housing with care schemes that already offer a leasehold option. If shared ownership is something that you would like to consider, please speak to one of our friendly team by either submitting an email enquiry or phoning us.

Age and care needs

How old do you have to be to live at an MHA retirement living scheme? 

The minimum age criteria vary across our retirement living schemes. However, at the majority of our schemes, you must be at least 60 years old. If someone is buying an apartment on your behalf, they are not required to be at least 60 years old. However, the person occupying the apartment must be.

How does MHA assess whether you are suitable to live at a retirement living scheme? 

MHA will always conduct care and financial assessments before accepting you into an MHA property. These assessments are always confidential and are in your interests as they ensure that you will be are safe and secure in our retirement living schemes, taking away any worries that you may have.

You may also be able to receive support from your local authority, should you have a low or limited income.

Paying for retirement living and extra charges

How do I find out about the service charges at the retirement living scheme I am interested in? 

Our key facts documents are available for each scheme and outline the amount you’ll pay for your service charge, which will differ depending on whether you are buying or renting. These documents are downloadable on each scheme page, or can be emailed or posted out to you should you enquire.

What is the service charge for and how much will I pay? 

The amount of service charge that you’ll pay is dependent on the scheme, though it covers the same elements throughout our schemes. The service charge is disclosed within our key facts documents for tenants and leaseholders, which are available on each of our scheme webpages and can be sent to you by email or post.

For further information on what the service charge includes, you can click on the service charge guides for leaseholders and tenants for more information about service charges.

What is the wellbeing service? 

MHA’s wellbeing service is available across our housing with care schemes and includes 24-hour staffing on-site or on-hand, help in an emergency and the co-ordination of an activities and events programme. Read more about our wellbeing service >

Do I need to pay ground rent? How much is it and how is it set? 

The ground rent is not part of the service charge. It is paid by owners only (so excludes rental properties) to the landlord either annually or in instalments.

The ground rent is defined in your lease and usually increases every five years by a set formula. If MHA are not your landlord but act as managing agents, we may collect the ground rent and pass it on to your landlord, although at some schemes it is payable directly to the landlord

Do I need to pay for my utilities? 

Utilities charges vary by scheme and are disclosed within our key facts documents for tenants and leaseholders, which are available on each of our scheme’s webpages and can be sent to you by email or post.

What costs are payable upon moving out of the property? 

The costs falling on leaseholders or owners include:

  • A Contingency Fund Contribution is payable on sale or a transfer of ownership. The Fund covers the costs of repairing or renewing communal areas, roofs, lifts, etc. The amount payable is based on the value of the property and will be calculated as set out in the specific ownership contract.
  • An Administration Fee is also payable to cover the legal costs that MHA incurs on resale.
  • The owner (or the owner’s estate) remain liable for paying all ongoing charges (e.g. the service charge, wellbeing charge, and ground rent) until the property is sold. They may also have to pay for any repairs and redecoration required by MHA to put the property in good order for re-sale.
  • Further information is available in the Key Facts documents for each retirement community.

 The costs falling on tenants include:

  • Tenants who give notice remain liable for paying all ongoing charges (e.g. the rent, service charge, and wellbeing charge) during the four-week notice period.
  • In England and Wales, the same liability will fall on a tenant’s estate if a tenant dies; in Scotland, all charges cease to be payable on death.
  • Tenants (or the tenant’s estate) may also have to pay for any repairs and redecoration required by MHA to put the property in good order for re-letting.
  • Further information is available in the Key Facts documents for each retirement community.
How would I pay for retirement living? 

Retirement living schemes usually have three options available – buying, renting or shared ownership.As with any leasehold (you'll own the property for a fixed period but not the land it is built on), owners must pay a monthly service charge and ground rent.

These charges include exterior maintenance, redecoration, and upkeep of communal areas, including outdoor spaces and gardens. This page will go through charges and support that may be available to you. If you opt for it, there is also charges for wellbeing (see below).

Find out more on our paying for retirement living page  

Additional services

What additional services do MHA offer? 

MHA offer a range of additional services across our retirement living schemes, including:

  • Personal care service, offering assistance with washing, dressing, medication assistance, etc.
  • A maintenance service, offering assistance with small jobs and repairs within a resident's own property
  • A domestic service, offering assistance with housework such as vacuuming, dusting, cleaning kitchens/bathrooms etc.

The services are chargeable in 15-minute intervals, differ across each scheme and are subject to staff availability. For more information on the charges for each service, you can consult the Key Facts documents for Leaseholders and Tenants for the scheme of your choice.

Pets and personal belongings

Are pets welcome at MHA's retirement living schemes?  

If you are thinking about moving to an MHA retirement living scheme and would like to bring a pet with you, you can apply to the Housing Manager for approval by using the Resident Application for Pet Ownership form.

This will be provided to you and approval will depend on a risk assessment conducted by a staff member. Please note that this is also down to the discretion of the Housing Manager.

If I move into retirement living to downsize, will I be able to entertain?  

There should be plenty of room to entertain, depending on how many bedrooms you go for. If you frequently have people to stay, you could go for a two- or three-bedroom apartment. If you did feel like you needed more space, you can also meet friends and family in communal areas. Some retirement living communities also have guest suites available to stay in for a small fee. 

Can I bring my own furniture? 

Yes, of course. Your apartment is your home and you'll want it to feel homely. It's worth taking a tape measure, notepad and pen with you on a viewing to double-check the space you have to fit your furniture. 


Is MHA a member of any retirement living organisations?  

MHA is a member of The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), the main body representing the retirement community sector in the UK. MHA are Approved Operators under the ARCO Consumer Code, and we aim to comply with the Code’s requirements across the retirement living schemes that we have registered with ARCO. Read more about ARCO >

Retirement Living With MHA

Retirement Living With MHA

Our retirement living schemes across England, Scotland and Wales each have their own personalities, from large new developments with lots going on, to smaller, cosier schemes.

Find out more