Better Days Ahead For Retirement Homes Segment With Ministry Issuing Norms
India may be a young nation now, but, this young population will grow old with time. Senior citizens are, in fact, projected to form nearly 34 per cent of the country’s population by the end of this century. Sensing the opportunity here, real estate developers in India brought the retirement homes concept, and have been busy building such projects in several parts of the country in the past decade.
However, so far, there were no set rules to act as the guiding principle for realtors developing such housing projects or to incentivise realtors busy supplying to meet the demand.
“India holds the youngest population in the world right now. Slowly, when this major chunk moves towards retirement, it would be hard for the government to support them through the existing infrastructure,” says Rakesh Yadav, Chairman, Antriksh India, told PropGuide in 2016.
This is set to change, with the housing ministry on March 6 issuing model guidelines that developers will have to follow while building retirement homes in India. Before elaborating on the new norms, let us first find out what is senior living.
What is senior living?
Retirement homes, that could be bought by anyone but must be used only by senior citizens aged 60 or above, can be segregated into two.
“In general, there are two types of senior living concepts, independent living and assisted living. Independent living is usually suggested for active senior citizens, who can take care of themselves. In assisted living, the developer has to make available all possible facilities 24x7. Generally, these concepts exist in togetherness in any project meant for senior citizens," explains Rupesh Gupta, Director, J M Housing.
“In such homes, you would be living in a serene environment in the company of people of the same age group allowing you to live your own lifestyle rather than adapting to a new lifestyle at such a later stage of your life,” Ankit Aggarwal, CMD, Devika Group says.
There was a time when people opted to buy another property as their second homes, of which retirement homes were a part. But with growing popularity, this concept has become so big that it has become a category in its own.
“Second homes can serve varied purposes, say as a holiday home or a retreat home but in case of retirement home, it clearly explains the sole purpose of the house wherein you would be shifting close to your retirement age which is generally 55 years of so,” Aggarwal points out.
What are the guidelines?
Under the model guidelines, builders will not only have to register these projects with the real estate regulatory authorities of the state concerned but also have to follow building norms prescribed in several laws, including the National Building Code, the Model Building Bye-Laws and the Harmonized Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier-Free Built Environment for Persons with Disability and Elderly Persons.
They would also have to provide specific facilities in such projects to make them elderly-friendly.
Developers will, for instance, have to build elevators with audio and visual signage and signalling systems, work on designs that enable barrier-free movement, easy-to-use door knobs to anti-skid tiles in bathrooms and stairs and from gas-leak detection systems in the kitchens to emergency alarm systems, developers will have to provide services that ensure seniors are offered a hassle-free safe living environment.
They will mandatorily have to keep provisions to provide quick medical attention to the residents. For that, they will have to keep trained staff, emergency medical rooms and on-site ambulances ready 24x7. They will also have to tie up with the nearest hospitals and pharmacies.
Developers will also to keep a provision to offer dining services management and assistance with legal services.
“The key requirements that serve as the basic needs for the senior citizens are medical care, food and the feeling of being at home. One must ensure that all these facilities are kept in mind while planning such projects," says Kushagr Ansal, Director, Ansal Housing.
Just the availability of these facilities, he says, will not fulfil the requirements; the comfort of using these facilities, knowing that these are designed specifically for them will serve them better.
The guidelines say that developers can recruit experienced service providers to build and maintain retirement home projects by signing a tri-partite agreement. To make this housing segment lucrative for builders, the government has proposed to offer higher floor area ratio in such retirement home projects.
What does the future hold?
With a model framework in place that would formalise the building process, the senior living housing segment would see better days in future.
"The concept of retirement homes is quite successful in India as it is. More and more people would be looking for such options in the times to come," says Gupta.
With inputs from Anindita Sen