Renting isn’t often associated with retirement but it should be, because almost one in 10 Australians aged over 55 live in private rental accommodation.
What many of those older renters may not be aware of, though, is that renting in a retirement community is a solution to many of the common problems with the private rental market, where renters worry about eviction or high rent increases and struggle to find age-appropriate accommodation, or even accommodation that will accept a pet.
At a time when renting can feel like a precarious proposition, with Covid-19 causing many landlords to question the viability of their investment properties, a retirement rental community can be a great solution for older Australians on a fixed income who want to be certain they can stay in their home for as long as they wish, at a price they can afford.
What’s a retirement rental community?
Retirement rental communities typically offer many of the upsides of life in a retirement village or lifestyle community – a gated residential area, a purpose-built, ground-level home ideal for ageing, regular social activities and a community of likeminded neighbours – but without the up-front costs purchasing such a property incurs.
Ingenia Gardens’ retirement rental communities, for example, offer comfortable, pet-friendly homes, each with its own courtyard, surrounded by manicured gardens with community centres and a fun social calendar for residents to participate in.
There are other good reasons older Australians choose to live in a retirement rental community. For example, they’re an attractive option for those with limited funds, and also for those who want to move out of a large home but aren’t ready or interested in purchasing a downsized unit, or those who would simply prefer not to tie up all of their savings in property – instead having extra money to spend on holidays or spoiling the grandkids.
Additionally, retirement rental communities offer greater flexibility for over-55s who need to relocate to be closer to family or who simply want a sea-change or tree-change. And retirement rental communities are typically located close to amenities and services older Australians value, from shopping centres and medical facilities to public transport, bowls clubs and libraries.
How does a rental community work?
At Ingenia Gardens, residency is offered to independent seniors under a Residential Tenancy Agreement, which is the same as that used for other types of rental accommodation. But the weekly rent at Ingenia Gardens also covers basic internal and external home maintenance, whitegoods such as fridges and heaters, gardening and security services and water costs.
Ingenia Gardens’ communities each have a community manager onsite during the week to ensure services run smoothly and residents receive assistance and support where they need.
Plus, Ingenia Gardens communities all have a complementary Activate program of lifestyle activities, ranging from celebratory meals, games with prizes, crafts groups and Men’s Sheds, plus bus trips and entertainment. Residents can participate in the Activate program as much or as little as they prefer.
Residents also have access at no cost to the Ingenia Care team that can coordinate access to home care and other support services designed to allow older Australians to live independently for longer.
There are no up-front fees charged for these additional services, just a bond to the value of four weeks’ rent, as is the case with most private rental tenancies. The bond is held at the state bond authority and is refundable at the end of a tenancy.
The minimum lease period at Ingenia Gardens is six months but lease periods of one and two years are also offered. A lease can be renewed as many times as a resident prefers, and there is no exit fee – such as is paid at many retirement villages – on moving out.
Residents at Ingenia Gardens can choose to cook for themselves in a self-catered unit, or select a lifestyle catered unit and enjoy three nutritious, home-style meals – all prepared onsite daily for just under $80 per week on top of their weekly rent. This can work out to be a very economical solution for people who find grocery shopping difficult or cooking for one a chore. Lunch is enjoyed in the community room and provides social support and connection for many residents.
How much will it cost?
While prices vary, many retirement rental communities are specifically geared to those on the Age Pension or receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, for whom having expensive whitegoods supplied and maintenance taken care of can be a real money-saver.
Another financial advantages for pensioners living in retirement rental communities is the possibility of using Rent Assistance to offset weekly rental costs. Additional government funding such as meals subsidies and subsidised allied health services may also be available.
And Ingenia Gardens commits to raising rent only at the same pace and rate as pension increases, never faster or higher. Nor is there a risk of being evicted at the whim of a landlord, because a residents’ tenancy is secure as long as they abide by the Residential Tenancy Agreement.
Take a virtual tour from the comfort and safety of your own home.
Step inside our cosy rental unit and explore our central community room where residents connect over a meal and a chat or fun social activity.
** This article was originally published on Starts at 60.