The importance of stable and secure accommodation for older people can make them exceptionally vulnerable to accommodation-related legal problems. Legal issues which may threaten the stability of accommodation arrangements may present a greater level of stress and anxiety to older people than other age groups.
The accommodation related legal needs of older people are not homogenous. Rather they reflect the diverse range of accommodation types available to older people and preferred by older people. The needs can be categorised in the following ways:
- Legal needs relating to accommodation that is specifically designated for older people (i.e. nursing homes, residential aged care facilities and retirement villages) that tend to be experienced only by older people. They are usually governed by legislative or administrative frameworks requiring specialist knowledge.
- Legal issues relating to accommodation which, while experienced by other age groups in the population, will be common amongst older people because of the high proportion of older people residing in these accommodation options, i.e. strata title units, home ownership, and public housing tenancies.
- Legal issues relating to accommodation in which older people make up a significant proportion, i.e. boarding and lodging houses, and residential parks. While the proportion of older people residing in such accommodation options may not be high, the fact that older people make up a significant proportion of the total numbers using them makes the related legal issues particularly relevant to older people.
- Legal issues relating to accommodation where older people are particularly vulnerable, or may find it difficult to seek assistance, i.e. strata title units, home ownership, private housing tenancy, boarding and lodging houses, residential parks. These legal issues will be experienced by other age groups and demographics as well, but older people may be particularly vulnerable to their occurrence, and may face particular barriers in accessing assistance.
Accommodation-related legal issues for older people often require specialist knowledge on the part of advocates and service providers. However, the vulnerability of older people to more general accommodation related legal issues indicates a need for generalist services to be sensitive to the particular needs and issues confronted by older people in seeking assistance for housing related matters.