June 15, 2024

Telegraph asks: Should you really buy a retirement property?

TelegraphArticle The Daily Telegraph yesterday published an excellent balancing article to the usual advert-friendly dross that accompanies features on retirement housing.

It can be read here. Please do comment on it (and here, of course).

Written by Fleet Street veteran Liz Hodgkinson, the article addresses the points raised by Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation – which every would-be buyer of these products should be aware of.

The Telegraph has rebalanced matters after running a puff-piece on retirement house building, drawing on the worringly uncritical analysis by the think tank Demos. More here

Sadly, too many families buy retirement flats in a hurry to address an immediate crisis.

Only afterwards do they become aware, as Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation points out, that they could have made “the single worst financial investment you ever make”.

The PR men for the builders, the property managers, the assorted trade bodies etc will say that Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation’s concerns are either exaggerated or largely addressed.

But if they are right, why does this site get 300-400 visitors every day; why have there been two Office of Fair Trading investigations – and one ruling of collusive tendering by Peverel / Cirrus – why the court cases, and the parliamentary debates?

Why does Peverel / FirstPort own a portfolio of house managers’ flats, with leases created in 2009?

These were in sites built in the 1980s and 1990s, and the flats were a communal asset for which the residents paid, just like the passageways and hall.

In December 2013 the OFT ruled protractedly and pathetically – it took four years and Peverel was absurdly given “leniency” – that lucrative contracts were doled out to Cirrus at Peverel sites after a sham tendering process.

More here

Since then nothing has been done to avoid a repetition of that scandal.

Freeholders of retirement sites fight to the last to avoid handing over the management to the residents through right to manage.


The Telegraph has at last asked the right questions and they cannot be ignored – as has been the case hitherto – in discussions about retirement housing.

On a personal note, I thank Liz Hodgkinson for this article.

When I was at the Mail, she came to me with the story of retirement flats being on the market in north Oxford (the fancy part) for £15,000.

This alerted me to inquire into the wider scandals of retirement housing provision.

Sebastian O’Kelly


  1. Sadly, when I bought a Peverel flat in 1999 the internet was still in its infancy and prospective buyers of retirement flats could only rely on sales literature and advertisements for information. Not like today, with so much other information out there, that enables buyers to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision. Had I known then what I know now I would most certainly not have bought into the retirement sector; it was a terrible mistake. The 12 years of bullying/harassment and stress I suffered was horrendous. Selling up and being shot of the dreaded accounts meetings, the regular ‘elf and safety’ checks made on the flats by the HM and the piles of Peverel correspondence challenging the rip-offs has been a huge relief. Most of the residents don’t understand the corruption involved in leasehold and the few that do understand are happy to go along with it. My advice is stay in your own home if possible and adapt it to meet your changing needs such as installing a secure door intercom and an emergency call alarm system. Never buy a leasehold retirement flat. If you must downsize look for a freehold bungalow or a flat with a share of the freehold so you still have full control of the finances.

  2. Correction: I left London in 1999. “Unfortunately, when I bought a Peverel flat in 2002…”