What are almshouses?

Almshouses are run by independent local charities. They provide self-contained low-cost housing, mostly to older people who have a low income. They often cater for particular categories of people, for example if you’ve worked for a certain trade or you’ve been living in the area for a number of years. There are generally a small number of houses grouped together.

Residents pay rent, usually called a maintenance contribution, which is often less than the average rent in local properties rented from a council, housing association or private landlord.

To find out more about almshouses, visit almshouses.org

Who is eligible?

Almshouses are usually only suitable for people who are able to live independently. In addition, each almshouse has its own eligibility criteria. For example, they may only help people who:

  • are retired
  • live in a certain area
  • worked in a particular trade.

Advantages

  • you'll be part of a small community
  • low weekly maintenance contribution – usually less than the market rent
  • usually in an area you know
  • often have a scheme manager or warden
  • can be very picturesque – over 30% of almshouse charities occupy listed buildings

Disadvantages

  • often not suitable for people who can’t live independently
  • may be in older buildings without adaptations or features that make them accessible for all older people, eg no level access or lift
  • long waiting lists and limited availability
  • residents are licensees, so have fewer housing rights than tenants. This means it could be easier to evict you
  • limited say in the running of the scheme

Details of current vacancies are available from The Almshouse Association (01344 452922, almshouses.org).

Next steps

Read our guide Choosing where to live for more information about different housing options

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