Frequently Asked Questions

We take the job of managing and maintaining our developments seriously, and are committed to being open and transparent in our communications with our homeowners. We aim to provide a best practice management service. 

Please browse our most frequently asked questions by typing your question in the box below. However if you cannot find what you are looking for, use our contact us page

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Can I bring my pet cat or dog with me?We understand how important the companionship of a pet can be, and so you are welcome to bring a well-behaved pet to live with you in your apartment. Please contact your Sales team for more details. Terms and conditions apply.

How many is your service charge?
We find that in most cases, service charges for one of our apartments are lower than like-for-like costs in a purchaser’s previous property so homeowners rarely have difficulties with ongoing costs. In addition, heating costs are very often lower due to our modern construction methods and, most likely, the more manageable size of the new apartment.

Our service charge varies slightly from development to development reflecting their different sizes and facilities, but they are formulated the same across the country.

For a typical Retirement Living apartment (based on Atwood House in Sanderstead) the *latest annual service charge has been worked out at £45.15per week for a one bedroom apartment or £67.72 per week if you have two bedrooms.

For a typical Retirement Living PLUS apartment (based on Lady Shepheard’s House in Chislehurst the *latest annual service charge has been worked out at £125.19 per week for a one bedroom apartment or £164.51 per week if you have two bedrooms.

*These figures are correct up to 31 May 2019.

Costs in Retirement Living PLUS developments are higher than in Retirement Living schemes to reflect the increased staffing costs, the provision of domestic support packages, and the table service restaurant provided on site. 

What does your service charge cover?
Our management businesses, and service charges, reflect the expectations of our Customers and the Landlord (McCarthy & Stone Retirement Lifestyles) and the range of services required under the terms of the lease.  For example, we employ staff on each development, tender for all work with independent service providers and don’t take any commission or receive retrospective rebates.

In our Retirement Living schemes, the service charge covers a range of services provided for homeowners, such as:
  • House Manager
  • 24 hour emergency call system
  • Intruder alarm costs
  • Camera door entry system
  • Buildings insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Water rates
  • Sewerage rates
  • Window cleaning for external windows
  • Heating of the communal areas

We believe the charge provides good value for money. We do not provide any of these services ourselves, with the exception of the House Manager, who is employed by MSMS. At some of our most recent developments, the service charge also includes the cost of heating within the apartments.

In our Retirement Living PLUS schemes, in addition to the items set out above, the service charge also includes: 
  • The running cost of the restaurant (with a small additional cost payable per meal eaten in the restaurant, which is typically £4.00 for a three-course meal freshly prepared on-site)
  • One-hour of domestic support per week from our staff on-site

Our team, which can total up to 17 people per development, is based on-site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is registered with the Care Quality Commission in England and its equivalent bodies in Scotland and Wales. Domestic support covers whatever time-consuming chores our homeowners would like undertaken, such as cleaning, shopping, running errands and domestic help. Our homeowners choose how best to use this support.

Additional personal care packages in our Retirement Living PLUS developments are totally flexible and can be adapted to suit our Customers’ needs, including help with going to bed and getting up in the morning, a sitting, night sleeping or waking service, preparing breakfast, getting to and from appointments or regular assistance during a period of convalescence.  All care and support services in Assisted Living developments can be provided by our on-site care staff.

Homeowners are under no obligation to take care packages from us and can use a third party if preferred.  For a list of the additional care and support packages provided in our Retirement Living PLUS schemes, please click here.

Will costs increase after I move in? How are budgets set?
Our service charges are fixed on an annual cycle and reflect the costs of the services we procure on behalf of our homeowners.

We share the individual costs that make up the service charge with homeowners and outline the methods for calculating the resulting charge. The service charge for each year is agreed in consultation with homeowners through an open book budgeting process.

We do our very best to negotiate the best cost with third party service providers on behalf of our homeowners. As part of our system of checks and controls to ensure they are treated fairly, we regularly monitor service charges in our managed schemes against current market practices and third party providers to ensure we offer competitive rates. We have developed a simple chart to help Customers make a direct comparison for use during the sales process and a full breakdown of the service charge budget is available from our Sales teams and House Managers at all new developments.

Do your service charge budgets proposed at the start of the year prove to be accurate?
The service charge budgets represent those costs that would be expected to be incurred in a normal year of operation with a full development. It is the intention of McCarthy & Stone Management Services to ensure the service charge budgets are set as accurately as possible. Where possible, we try to keep annual increases in line with inflation although certain costs such as Utilities can have inflationary pressures that are outside of our control. Typically, our developments have shown a slight surplus to date, which is refunded each year to homeowners within six months of the end of the period

Is it more expensive to live in one of your apartments than my current home?
Many of our homeowners are pleased to find that the service charges for their apartment tend to work out at less than what they were paying in like-for-like costs at their previous property.

Energy bills often turn out to be lower thanks to the modern construction methods we use at all our developments. Your new apartment is also likely to be a more manageable size and so cheaper to run.

When Customers discuss the purchase of a McCarthy & Stone apartment with us, they receive a service charge leaflet and our Sales Executive sits down with them to help them fill in the costs, review what is covered in the management services and compare them to day-to-day running costs in their current home.  Our Sales Executive ensures that they have a detailed knowledge of ongoing costs before a sale is completed. 

Are you apartments part or fully furnished?
Other than the walk-in wardrobe, the apartments are unfurnished ready for your own furniture

What if someone develops dementia whilst living in an apartment?
McCarthy & Stone properties are designed for independent living. They are not secure units. They are not suitable for people with significant dementia care needs. 

Therefore during the sales process it is important that buyers and families understand the limit of the support McCarthy & Stone can offer, and satisfy themselves that their family member will be safe. If McCarthy & Stone itself is unsure whether a would-be homeowner needs a higher level of care, a care manager can make a home visit with the family present to discuss an individual’s care needs. The customer’s GP can also be consulted. 

If a homeowner develops dementia, there is a lot we can do to support them. If they can no longer live independently and safely in a development, we can work with them and their family to help them move to a more specialised setting

Do you rent apartments?
We do rent properties on some developments. Although McCarthy & Stone normally sells the properties to individuals, there are some of these brand new properties available to rent. To find out more, visit here 

Are retirement apartments a good investment? Do they hold their value when they need to be resold?
The majority of properties built and managed by McCarthy & Stone increase in value when resold. In fact, we achieve an average of c.4% net price increase per resale. 

A recent independent study conducted by the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) in 2019 confirmed that new retirement properties typically increase in value on resale.

However, it is important to remember that our properties are more than simply a financial investment, they are an investment in the quality of life for our residents and their families. Our customers recognise that they are buying into a lifestyle based around security and companionship, as well as warmth, friendship, ease of maintenance, reduced responsibilities and enhanced wellbeing. As a result, our customers live independently and have healthier, happier and, hopefully, longer lives. 

In addition, we have made significant improvements to our products and services in recent years to further improve the quality of our apartments alongside their ability to retain value, including:

  • Setting up an in-house management services team in 2010 with a dedication to high standards, providing a single end-to-end service for customers
  • Providing more internal space, en-suites, underfloor heating, walk-in wardrobes, improved bathrooms, level-access showers and enhanced kitchens
  • Removing exit fees* and introducing 999 year leases

We also provide an in-house Resales service, a dedicated team to supporting homeowners and their families when they come to resell their apartment. Being an in-house service, we have the unique understanding of retirement living, enabling us to communicate all the benefits this lifestyle can bring better than anyone.

Further information can be found here or you can speak to a member of our team on 0345 556 4104 or email [email protected]

*A 1% contribution of the resale price still applies upon resale. This goes into the sinking fund (the contingency fund) for each development, which covers maintenance of that scheme. There is also a small administration fee to cover the costs of checking that the incoming occupier meets the terms of the deed of conditions. Please contact our Property Transfer team on 01202 508299 for more detail.

What does buying off-plan mean?
The idea of buying a new home before it's fully built can feel a little strange but with McCarthy & Stone there are lots of real advantages. For a start, you get first choice of the plots on the development. Then once you have reserved we can help make the move go smoothly- through to moving day and beyond. A dedicated Sales Executive and Customer Support Executive will be on hand to provide a package of services and assistance built around your specific requirements. 

What is the ground rent for?
The ground rent income stream underpins the viability of our developments and largely pays for the construction costs of the unsellable communal areas we provide. These areas total c.30% of our developments (for example, our communal lounges, restaurants, well-being suites, guest suites and staff accommodation) and are essential to the lifestyle that retirement living provides for older people. Ground rent therefore enables the pricing of our apartments to remain competitive. If it was removed, this may well result in higher purchase prices for customers, although we remain determined to limit any future increases and will look at all alternatives.

Ground rent applies in England and Wales, but not Scotland, which operates under a different legal system.

Read the McCarthy & Stone Ground Rent Briefing Note (February 2020).

How do your ground rents compare to other providers?
The ground rents charged are comparable with those charged by other providers of retirement living accommodation and are competitive within the house building industry. Ground rents in retirement housing can be slightly higher than open market developments as they reflect the larger size of retirement schemes, which include significant shared facilities such as the lounge, the laundry, the guest suite, staff areas, and, in some developments a dining room, restaurant and mobility scooter room.

How long are your leases and can they be renewed?
All developments released for sale from August 2015 have 999 year leases. A small number of developments may be less if we have not acquired the freehold of the site. For managed developments released for sale prior to August 2015, leases are typically for 125 years. Leases can be extended and you can find out further information from the Leasehold Advisory Service.

Do I need to pay ground rent? How much is it and how is it set?
"Ground rents are payable on leasehold properties in England and Wales, but not Scotland, which operates under a different legal system. As with all leasehold properties in England and Wales, ground rents are a condition of the lease for our apartments. They are set by McCarthy & Stone at the outset of the development and are clearly highlighted during the sales process to all customers.


The level of ground rent reflects the size of the development and the level of service it provides. Our ground rents are typically between c.£400-£500 per year depending on the product, number of bedrooms and location. Within the M25 area, they range from c.£500-£600 per year. Our regional teams can provide more detail if needed.

Ground Rents are fixed for 15 years. They are reviewed on the fifteenth anniversary of the date of commencement of the term and each successive fifteenth anniversary from that date. Increases are linked to either the movement in the Retail Price Index (RPI) since the last review, or if greater, by 2% per annum, and is compounded yearly.

There are differences between one and two bed apartments. McCarthy & Stone sets the difference at a figure which it considers fairly reflects the size difference in apartments. While it would be possible to base the difference on actual square footage, this would be a complicated exercise and would lead to minor variations in ground rents between comparable apartments within any given development which would be administratively complex and could cause confusion.

The ground rent does not increase after the 125th anniversary even though our new leases are for a term of 999 years.

Is McCarthy & Stone the freeholder and/or landlord of its developments?
McCarthy & Stone Retirement Lifestyles is the landlord in all new developments from September 2008. On new developments where the freehold has been sold, it is a condition of the sale that McCarthy & Stone Retirement Lifestyles remains as the head landlord to ensure continuity for its homeowners and to ensure that they do not have to deal with any third party.
 
I see that the Government has announced plans to abolish ground rents, what does this mean for me as a potential buyer? 
The Government is still consulting on reforming the ground rent system so nothing will change for the time being.  In October 2018, the Government announced its latest plans for reform, which involve capping all new ground rents on new build apartments at £10 per annum.  These proposals will not become law until late 2020, and the Government is not proposing to make them retrospective.  In addition, the Government has recommended allowing the retirement community sector to continue to charge a fair and stable ground rent after this point because of the way our sector uses ground rents to help pay for the initial construction costs of our shared areas.

The retirement community sector capitalises ground rent income with an investor to recover much of the construction costs of the significant shared and communal areas within our developments that are integral to the retirement living lifestyle.  Charging ground rents in retirement developments therefore enables average selling prices to be maintained at an appropriate level to the wider property market, ensuring they are kept affordable for customers.  This is essential to ensuring the Government meets the critical need for specialist elderly accommodation caused by the UK’s rapidly ageing population.  Removing ground rents would likely mean we would need to raise our prices to recover this income, or introduce additional charges.

The Government’s proposals in October 2018 also note that future customers in retirement developments will have the choice of either paying a higher sale price at a ground rent of £10 per annum or a lower sale price with a specified economic ground rent. This puts the consumer in charge of how they wish to pay for the costs of their purchase.  Again, as these are proposals there will be no immediate change to how we sell our apartments, but this may be introduced in future if the exemption is confirmed.

We hope this information is helpful, but please liaise with our Sales teams if you need any further information.  Please also see our latest briefing note here.

Is it more expensive to live in one of your apartments than my current home?
Many of our homeowners are pleased to find that the service charges for their apartment tend to work out at less than what they were paying in like-for-like costs at their previous property. 

Energy bills often turn out to be lower thanks to the modern construction methods we use at all our developments. Your new apartment is also likely to be a more manageable size and so cheaper to run.

When Customers discuss the purchase of a McCarthy & Stone apartment with us, they receive a service charge leaflet and our Sales Executive sits down with them to help them fill in the costs, review what is covered in the management services and compare them to day-to-day running costs in their current home.  Our Sales Executive ensures that they have a detailed knowledge of ongoing costs before a sale is completed. 

Is there private car parking available?
On-site car parking is provided. Arrangements may vary between developments so please contact the on-site Sales or Management team for more details. 

Is there a bath and separate shower? 
Various choices are available all dependent on the chosen apartment/development.


Are your apartments sound proofed?
Yes. Our apartments are built to comply fully with building regulations which cover sound proofing.

Are there slip resistant floors in the kitchen and bathroom?
Y
es. All apartments have slip resistant floors in the kitchen and bathroom as standard.


Do I have to eat in the restaurant if I live in an Retirement Living PLUS?
No, you will have your own fully-fitted kitchen in your apartment but the restaurant is open for lunch 365 days of the year should you wish to use it.

How much does it cost to eat in the restaurant in an Retirement Living PLUS?
Every day of the year our homeowners can enjoy a freshly prepared meal at a modest cost in the on-site table service restaurant or Bistro. Special dietary requirements can be catered for and friends and family are welcome to join for lunch.

Charges vary slightly between developments and range from £4 - £7 per meal. A small additional charge will be added to Guest meals. Fixed costs of the restaurant and the catering staff are included in the service charge, and there is no requirement to eat in the restaurant each day.

For those special occasions, a function room is available at selected developments and homeowners can work with the chef to select the menu for their guests. Meals for special events will be priced by each individual experience. Meals for special events may cost more. 

Do you provide white goods?
Kitchens are fully fitted with white goods which come with a 2 year guarantee.
 
Can I have my own washing machine? 
Some of our sites have a laundry facility, although this may vary from site to site. If you still wish to have your own washing machine please speak with the Sales team, Concierge or House Manager who will be able to advise you.


Is a homeowner responsible for any flood damage from their flat which causes damage to adjoining flats?
This depends on how the flood occurred and the party responsible for the flood. The buildings insurance that is included within the service charge will generally only cover damage that is caused to the building or communal contents (i.e. not contents owned individually by a homeowner).  However, if the landlord of the building is held to be responsible for the flood then generally any such damage will be covered by the buildings insurance or the landlord’s public liability insurance policy. 

It is recommended that homeowners take out their own contents insurance, including accidental damage and public liability insurance, as this will generally provide cover in the event that a leak is caused by the homeowner (i.e. due to a running tap etc) which then causes damage to property of an adjoining flat owner. It is best to take advice from an insurance broker regarding this.


Can I choose the colour of my walls/carpets/general décor?
The walls are painted in cream or white as standard however we can provide details for interior design options (i.e wallpaper) for which there may be an additional charge. You may of course decorate once you have purchased. Carpets, curtains and light fittings can be arranged through us or you can employ an external company if you would prefer.

 
If the development has underfloor heating, apartments come already fitted with carpet which meet regulations and can only be replaced with like for like.

You can discuss all in further detail with your Sales team.

What is your complaints procedure and how do you promote it?
At McCarthy & Stone we are committed to enriching the lives of our customers. We pride ourselves on the quality of the homes we build, the lifestyles we deliver and the services we provide. However, we understand that sometimes things can go wrong and so we take complaints very seriously. If you do have a complaint, please do let us know so that we have the opportunity to resolve the issue for you and learn from it.


Do you promote right to manage? 
We support and promote Right to Manage where homeowners wish to explore this path. Information on Right to Manage is provided to every homeowner in the Purchasers Information Pack which explains the residents’ rights, including the right to set up their own management company or to go to a third party provider. To show our support, we will offer to pay the reasonable legal costs for our homeowners who wish to establish a Right to Manage company.

There are websites offering advice and assistance to homeowners wanting to exercise this right. We are pleased to say that none of our homeowners in our managed schemes have decided to set up their own Right to Manage company or have gone to a third party, and are happy for us to provide these services on their behalf. 
 
Can homeowners set up their own residents' associations and what rights does an association have?
Yes. Residents’ associations are encouraged in our developments. They exist primarily for the benefit of homeowners in matters of negotiation, repair schedules, finance and social activities and as such will have a formal constitution, but residents can also use the meetings to air their views. 

We are committed to dealing with individual residents’ needs and concerns on a one-to-one basis and residents’ associations do not replace the personal touch. However, they may help in streamlining communication and lead to a better understanding and faster resolution of matters concerning residents as a whole.


Do you charge a transfer or exit fee on the subsequent sale on an apartment in one of your new developments?
No. A transfer fee, which is also known as an exit fee, was a cost paid directly to the freeholder of a development when an apartment was sold or rented out. Such a payment was for the benefit of the freeholder. On 1st September 2008, McCarthy & Stone abolished this fee on all leases in all new McCarthy & Stone developments built after that date. In addition, we do not collect any transfer fee on or after 1 September 2008 where we are the landlord even if the lease provided for its payment before purchase.

On developments constructed by us before September 2008 and where third parties own the freehold, we are unable to control whether a transfer fee will be levied on the sale of apartments in those developments.  If a transfer fee remains applicable in these older properties, the terms in the lease are transparent and have been disclosed to the owner of the apartment


Do you charge contingency fees on your developments and how are they different to transfer fees? 
It is important that customers do not face any unexpected financial burdens in their new home resulting from, for example, the need to undertake any major refurbishment or structural repairs on the development. In order to provide confidence that there is enough money available to meet this work, the service charge includes a small charge to help cover unexpected costs such as these. This is called the Contingency Fund, and is similar to a ‘sinking fund’. It is a specific fund kept in the development’s own bank account. It is held in trust and its use is restricted to the maintenance of that development and cannot be accessed by McCarthy & Stone for its own purposes. It is there for the benefit of all homeowners and finances the replacement of carpets and furniture in the shared areas and longer-term repairs and renewals such as roofs, window frames and replacement of lifts.

In order to keep this weekly cost – and hence the service charge – to a minimum, the development’s specific Contingency Fund is ‘topped up’ by a one-off charge of 1% of the resale price upon the sale of the apartment, in addition to a small charge in the service charge.
With regard to subletting on leases prior to October 2014, we will charge a concessionary rate (irrespective of the provisions in the lease, which may be higher) of one month’s rent for each year that the apartment is sublet (or pro-rata for less than a year).

This is a concession from the terms of the lease which are in essence one month’s rent for each six month sublet period.  This concession will apply for a maximum period of two years, after which time we will revert to the terms of the lease. 

For leases from October 2014, the subletting contingency fee has been reduced to a contingency fee of 1% of the annual rent (or pro-rata for under-letting of less than one year).  Where the underletting is for more than a year, the contingency fee is 1% of the annual rent payable annually on the anniversary of the commencement of the term.

There is also a small administration fee collected by MSMS / YLMS to cover their costs to check that the incoming occupier meets the terms of the deed of conditions (i.e. meets the age criteria and is capable of leading an independent life) and provide information about the development, the service charge and insurance.

If I need any support with the costs or I run out of money after moving, what help do you provide?
We find that in most cases, service charges for one of our apartments are lower than like-for-like costs in a purchaser’s previous property so homeowners rarely have difficulties with ongoing costs. In addition, heating costs are very often lower due to our modern construction methods and, most likely, the more manageable size of the new apartment.

All prospective homeowners receive details of ongoing costs before completing a purchase in the leases and all sales literature in order to ensure Customers fully understand the costs of living in a development. When Customers discuss the purchase of a McCarthy & Stone apartment with us, they receive a service charge leaflet and our Sales Consultant sits down with them to help them fill in the costs, review what is covered in the management services and compare them to day-to-day running costs in their current home. Our Sales Consultants ensure that customers have a detailed knowledge of ongoing costs before a sale is completed. 

Our policy is one of complete transparency. We openly share the individual costs that make up the service charge with residents and outline the methods for calculating the resulting charge.  The service charge for each year is agreed in consultation with residents in our managed schemes through an open-book budgeting process.

We do our very best to negotiate the best cost with third party service providers on behalf of our residents. As part of our system of checks and controls to ensure they are treated fairly, we regularly monitor service charges in our managed schemes against current market practices and third party providers to ensure we offer competitive rates. We have developed a simple chart to help Customers make a direct comparison for use during the sales process and a full breakdown of the service charge budget is available from our Sales Consultants and House Managers at all new developments.  

We will always work with homeowners who do experience financial difficulties to agree a way forward. McCarthy & Stone also offers support to all of its Customers and those enquiring about a property to help them understand what Government benefits are available and how much financial support each Customer could expect to receive. Our Entitlement Advice Service helps Customers to identify entitlements they perhaps didn’t know existed. Over the past two years, we have our customers claim more than £1 million in unclaimed benefits.

For example, it is possible that certain costs, such as ground rents and service charges could be covered by entitlements such as Pension Credit.  The most common areas of advice include Council Tax benefit, Attendance Allowance, and state pension advice. 

For a free and confidential review of the benefits that you may be entitled to by living in one of our apartments, please visit our Entitlement Advice Service section


Do I have to pay the service charge when the apartment becomes vacant?
When an apartment becomes vacant, for instance, if a homeowner passes away or moves into a care home, it is important that the service charge continues to be paid to maintain the efficient provision of services across the development and for the security of the other homeowners.

If a homeowner or their family is experiencing difficulties, we are happy to discuss their situation with them and see what can be done to support them.   


How often would there be a complete replacement to the lift? 
The lifts are covered by a maintenance contract the cost of which forms part of the service charge. There is no fixed life cycle and complete replacement would take place when judged necessary what I the lighting arrangement in the entrance and corridorsIt is our policy to leave the lights on continuously in these areas. However, we may consider putting sensors in place at some time in the future.

What happens after an exchange of contracts?
Once exchange of contracts has taken place, your agreed completion date will be confirmed by your solicitor and/or one of our Sales Consultants. At this point your removal company can be contacted to firm up your required moving in date.

There is usually a one to two week gap between exchange and completion to allow you time to book and confirm removals. It is however also possible to exchange and complete on the same day. 


If I buy McCarthy & Stone apartment, but am not ready to live in it, can I rent it out to someone else? 
Yes the apartment can be rented provided the proposed tenant complies with the age limit and other criteria for occupiers set out in the lease. McCarthy & Stone need advance notice of any proposed rental agreement and a reasonable contingency fee is charged which is paid into an account held on trust for the residents for repairs to the property. Further details can be obtained from our managing agents. 

Can I obtain a small mortgage to purchase a McCarthy & Stone apartment?
Yes, it is possible to take out a mortgage against one of our apartments. A number of lenders offer specialist retirement property mortgages.

Can my family buy the apartment for me?
Yes. Family and friends may own the apartment however, only people that meet the age requirements of the lease for the development may live in the apartment*

*Freehold in Scotland
 
Can I make alternations to my home?
Yes, provided you obtain the landlord’s permission and use properly qualified and insured contractors. Your House Manager or Estates Manager will be able to assist you in finding the right company.


Do McCarthy & Stone provide a guarantee on the apartments they build? 
Yes. As a registered builder with the NHBC, all new McCarthy & Stone apartments come with a 10 year NHBC Warranty. 

Can I bring my motorised scooter to an Retirement Living PLUS?
Yes. The use of lightweight motorised scooters (maximum speed 4 mph) is permitted within the development.* This type of scooter must be stored in your apartment. You can also store Class 3 (maximum speed 8 mph) scooters in the store room, which often contains a charging facility. Conditions apply and your Sales team can explain these in detail to you.

* Subject to availability. 


What happens if either myself or my partner require additional care once we have moved into an Retirement Living PLUS? 
We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The Estates Manager can provide a flexible care and support package tailored to your individual needs. So you only pay for the care you need at the time you need it. The care packages can be increased or decreased as your needs change. The Estates Manager can provide you with more detail of the services available. Whilst Retirement Living PLUS provides a wide range of personal care and support services, it is not suitable for people who require residential nursing care.

What is the minimum age requirements to purchase and live in a Retirement Living apartment?
Age restrictions form part of the lease which states you are not permitted to occupy an apartment if under the age limit set. Where there may be two occupants, both must meet the age requirement. There are two types of age restrictions, one is for sole occupancy and the other for joint occupancy.

Sole occupancy for Retirement Living is usually 60 and over. There is no upper limit however the homeowner would have to be able to live independently.Joint occupancy is usually 60/55, therefore one of the occupants would have to be over 60 and the other over 55.

Each development will have their own lease requirements, so it is always best to check with the Sales Executives at each site to determine the age limit requirement. There is no age limit to purchase one of our apartments, the restriction is only for the occupier.

The age limits for occupiers are often a requirement imposed by Council planning departments and are in line with Government policy which encourages purpose built accommodation for older people


Do the kitchen units move up and down as I am a wheelchair user?
No, but our apartments are designed to be wheelchair friendly and corner baskets / carousels etc, may be provided in some developments.

What type of care services do you provide in your Retirement Living PLUS developments? 
One hour’s domestic assistance is included in the weekly service charge in the majority of Retirement Living PLUS developments. However, this varies and some developments offer 30 minutes of domestic assistance. Many homeowners use this time to have their apartment cleaned. Other tasks can include:

  • General tidying
  • Changing bedding
  • Helping to look after pets (but not dog walking)
  • Shopping for food
  • Posting letters or parcels

In addition, a member of our management team is on site 24 hours-a day, 365 days-a-year to provide reassurance.

YourLife is our care and management company, created in 2010. YourLife is regulated by the Care Quality Commission in England and its equivalent bodies in Scotland and Wales.  

YLMS is therefore able to provide flexible personal care and support packages, individually tailored to suit our homeowners’ needs. Homeowners only pay for the care they need when they need it. It can be increased or decreased according to homeowners’ changing circumstances.

The sessions start from as little as 15 minutes per day and can be increased and decreased as required. Our rates are competitive and all care and support services are delivered by our staff who are employed on site. We can arrange a private, confidential Wellbeing Assessment with the Estates Manager, and a personalised care plan is then put in place so homeowners can be sure they’ll have all the care and support they need from the moment they move in.

Do I have a pay for the one hour domestic support if I don't use it (RLP only)?
Yes, the hour support is included in the service charge (whether or not actually utilised) and is a flat rate.

Is smoking allowed in Mccarthy & Stone apartment?
Yes, smoking is allowed within McCarthy & Stone apartments but not within communal areas.

Which council tax band do McCarthy & Stone apartments fall within?
The Council Tax band for a McCarthy & Stone apartment varies per development. Council Tax bands can be found at: gov.uk/council-tax-bands

How long from putting down a deposit do I have to purchase the apartment?
Usually this can take between 12 to 16 weeks. We understand that some customers may have a time period that will more suitable for them and we aim to be as flexible as we can

How long can someone stay in a development's guest suite?
A homeowner’s guest or guests are welcome to stay for as long as the suite is available and paid for within a Retirement Living development. There is a maximum five night stay within Retirement Living PLUS developments. The cost is usually £25 per night for the room however this may vary depending on the development. 

Are guests obliged to use the on-going on-site guest suite?
No, our on-site guest suites provide you with an alternative option for accommodating your guests. A homeowner’s guest or guests are welcome to stay for as long as the suite is available and paid for. The cost is usually £25 per night for the room, however this may vary depending on the development so please check with your Sales team.

All guest suites offer:

  • Ensuite
  • TV
    Tea and coffee making facilities
  • Access to the homeowners' lounge and other development facilities

Are residents of a M&S development able to use the suites at any other McCarthy and Stone development?
Homeowners on a MSMS or YLMS managed development can use the Guest Suites on other MSMS or YLMS managed sites.  For a full list please speak to the local House or Estate Manager. Homeowners on a MSMS or YLMS managed site cannot use the Guest Suites on sites managed by other organisations.

How long can I have a friend or family to stay with me in my apartment if they are visiting?
A friend or family member can stay with you in your apartment for a maximum of six months.

What is the difference between Care Homes and Retirement Living PLUS?
McCarthy & Stone's Retirement Living PLUS apartments are not care homes. Care homes typically offer single room accommodation for rent, whereas choosing a McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living PLUS development means you own your own private apartment. To ensure that the accommodation needs of homeowners are met, these apartments have been specially adapted to include waist height ovens and plug sockets, and slip resistant flooring and lever taps in the bathrooms. In addition, there are shared areas, including a homeowners’ lounge, function room and maintained gardens. As well as the kitchen facilities in the apartments, residents will also have a table service or bistro style restaurant available for use at a small extra charge. This can be used by visiting guests and relatives.

In McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living PLUS complexes you’ll find guest suites* which can be used for overnight stays – so visiting loved ones can be accommodated in comfort.

In terms of care, Retirement Living PLUS homeowners have one hour of domestic assistance per week included in the service charge. This can be used for cleaning, running errands, helping to care for pets, changing bedding and so on. For homeowners with greater personal care needs, additional care and support is available to purchase from our in-house staff teams, meaning that you only pay for the care that you need.

By contrast, care homes are usually inclusive of personal care. Our Retirement Living PLUS developments do not offer nursing care and wouldn’t be suitable for someone with medical care needs. 

A clear difference between care homes and our apartments is that the apartments are available for purchase, meaning that your beautiful new home really is yours.

What is the difference between Retirement Living PLUS and sheltered housing?
Retirement Living and sheltered housing are terms used interchangeably for the same development type

What is the difference between extra care and a Retirement Living PLUS apartment?
Extra care and Retirement Living PLUS are terms used interchangeably for the same development type. 

What is the difference between a retirement village and a McCarthy & Stone development?
McCarthy & Stone does not provide retirement villages. These are typically large-scale out-of-town developments of up to 250 units, providing a range of accommodation and care options.

Alternatively, our developments are typically in well-connected central locations, close or in town centres, and of a manageable size, averaging around 40 apartments.

What is a platinum apartment?
Our Platinum Retirement Living and Retirement Living PLUS apartments can only be found at a select number of locations throughout the UK. They’ve been introduced as a result of customer demand and offer enhanced accommodation and higher specification design.

All of our Platinum apartments have premium touches and everything is carefully thought through to make day to day life easier and more enjoyable."
what is a wellbeing suite/salon?"Wellbeing Suites / Salons are available in some Retirement Living PLUS developments. There may be a hairdressing facility, staffed by experienced mobile hairdressers, as well as nail technicians. There may also a treatment room where therapists can provide various treatments such as chiropody, massage and reflexology. 

This may vary from site to site. Please ask your Sales Executive for more information.

Is council tax included in the service charge?
Council Tax is not included within the service charge.

We believe the charge provides good value for money. We do not provide any of the services ourselves, with the exception of the House Manager, who is employed by MSMS. At some of our most recent developments, the service charge also includes the cost of heating within the apartments.

What does buying off-plan mean?
The idea of buying a new home before it's fully built can feel a little strange but with McCarthy & Stone there are lots of real advantages. For a start, you get first choice of the plots on the development. Then once you have reserved we can help make the move go smoothly- through to moving day and beyond. A dedicated Sales Executive and Customer Support Executive will be on hand to provide a package of services and assistance built around your specific requirements. 

Can I rent a McCarthy and stone apartment instead of buying one? 
At most developments, yes. Please click here for more information 

How do ground rents differ to service charge in McCarthy & Stone's developments?
The ground rents charged are comparable with those charged by other providers of retirement living accommodation and are competitive within the house building industry. Ground rents in retirement housing can be slightly higher than open market developments as they reflect the larger size of retirement schemes, which include significant shared facilities such as the lounge, the laundry, the guest suite, staff areas, and, in some developments a dining room, restaurant and mobility scooter room.

Are your cottages and bungalows sold on a freehold or leasehold basis?
Our bungalow and cottage developments that are for sale are being sold on a freehold basis only as they are stand alone homes.

What percentage of the property do I have to purchase?
70% is the standard option – there are options to increase this over time, known as staircasing

How much rent will I have to pay and how will that change over time with recent reviews?
The rent is set at the point of purchase. Annual rent review on the date specified in your lease will be indexed to movements in the Retail Price Index (RPI) subject to a minimum 0.5%. RPI has been in the range c.1-4% since 2013, and was 3.3% in March 2018.  3.3% is equivalent to an extra £1.98 per week for typical rent of £60 per week.

Can I sub-let the property?
No, under the terms of the Assured Tenancy Agreement sub-letting is not permitted.

Is private shared ownership available at McCarthy & Stone developments?
No. This offer is available at selected McCarthy & Stone developments, so make sure you check with the sales team on site.

Is private shared ownership available on Retirement Living PLUS sites as well as Retirement Living sites?
Private shared ownership is available on both Retirement Living and Retirement Living PLUS, though the higher service charges at RLP sites, reflecting the higher levels of care, services and support, will require a higher level of income than for RL sites. 

Do I pay stamp duty land tax (SDLT) or Land transaction tax (LTT) on a private shared ownership property?

You will need to pay SDLT*/LTT** on a private shared ownership property, but you may have less to pay than if you had purchased outright. You should seek advice from your solicitor to confirm how much SDLT you have to pay.

*Stamp Duty Land Tax  **Land Transaction Tax (LTT) has replaced SDLT in Wales from April 2018

What happens when I wish to sell?
I
f you decide to sell, you will need to instruct an independent valuer/ surveyor to set the selling price based on open market value. As laid out in the lease, the landlord will have right of first refusal to buy, and otherwise our resales team can help you to sell.

As with sales of wholly-owned apartments, on resale of a private shared ownership apartment a contingency fee at 1% of the total resale price is charged to be held in the development’s reserve or sinking fund.

What is staircasing and how does it work?
What further costs and fees are involved "You can purchase further 10% increments, based on valuation at that point, which may be higher or lower than the value when you first purchased.

You can staircase to 100% at which point the property would be wholly owned. You would stop paying rent, but service charges and ground rent continue to be payable to McCarthy & Stone.

Each time you staircase you need to plan for additional costs such as valuation fee, legal expenses, SDLT*/LTT** if applicable.

*Stamp Duty Land Tax  **Land Transaction Tax (LTT) has replaced SDLT in Wales from April 2018

What happens if my financial circumstances change and I can no longer afford to pay the rent?
It’s important that the housing decision you take is suitable for your personal and financial circumstances, which is why we carry out an initial affordability check and require you to meet an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) for a full financial assessment. We want you to enjoy your new home and not have worries over affordability.

Your rent, service charge and ground rent is a contractual agreement between you and your landlord. If you do fall behind with your payments, your landlord will contact you to arrange payment, or a payment plan to suit the circumstances.

Do you sell the ground rents why are they sold and who are they sold to? 
The freehold reversionary interests (ground rents) are sold but only on terms where McCarthy & Stone retains a head leasehold interest, thus remaining as immediate landlord with an ongoing responsibility and accountability for management of the developments concerned and a continuing direct relationship with the homeowners.

Unlike other housebuilders, McCarthy & Stone retains this long leasehold interest which will not end until after the lease of the apartments on a particular development has expired. This means that we will continue to be the landlord and be responsible for the estate management of the development. We will continue to be the point of contact for the day to day management of the apartment and manage the provision of services to the apartment and communal facilities of the development generally. We will collect the ground rent and service charge. The sale of the freehold ownership to the property investment company will not change any of the rights and obligations included in the apartment leases. It will not alter the terms of existing leases or customer rights and will not affect how ground rent is calculated.

It is industry practice for housebuilders to sell their ground rent portfolios to respected property investment bodies who are all ultimately beneficially owned by mainstream UK pension and annuity funds.  The money raised from the sale of the freeholds is then reinvested into the business to assist with the funding of future developments"