From the Viewsroom

Sweet home for silver years

Anand Kalyanaraman | Updated on March 07, 2019 Published on March 07, 2019

Norms for retirement homes a welcome development

The Union Housing Ministry has finally put in place some essential and progressive ground rules for the orderly development of the realty market for the elderly. While the broader real estate sector has been struggling the past few years, retirement homes in India are seeing good demand. Several senior citizen housing projects have come up across the country over the past decade — especially around cities such as Coimbatore and Pune. The numbers are set to grow due to a combination of factors — the joint family system is giving way, life expectancies have improved, and senior citizens’ finances today are better compared with earlier generations.

The numbers of the elderly in the country are also growing fast — from 10.4 crore in 2011, the Ministry expects it to grow to 17.3 crore by 2025 and further to about 24 crore by 2050. The stigma associated with living in retirement homes, rather than with family, has also reduced. Many elderly people want to spend their silver years comfortably with less physical and mental stress — with chores such as housekeeping and cooking taken care of. All this should keep demand ticking for retirement homes.

But the experience of senior citizens in many such homes has been a mixed bag. While well-run retirement communities meet a felt need, there have also been reports of protracted disputes between elderly residents and promoters. The list of complaints includes promoters not adhering to their commitments on amenities and services including medical facilities, sharp and arbitrary increase in food and maintenance charges, little or no say for residents in day-to-day matters of the community, lack of proper approvals for construction of houses, and non-compliance with government norms. Given their vulnerability, senior citizens lack the wherewithal to take on unscrupulous promoters.

The new guidelines, along with proper implementation of the RERA law, will hopefully infuse order into what today is essentially an unregulated market. The guidelines should also be made applicable for existing and ongoing retirement home projects.

Published on March 07, 2019
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