Whether you are considering a community for age-restricted retirement, independent living, assisted living or continuing-care, price is often a concern when moving into a retirement community. Before you sign a contract that will heavily affect the quality of your life, read it carefully for hidden costs. Price structures, fees and how those fees may be increased are typically detailed in the agreement, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to understand. Many people don’t take the time to read the fine print and then are surprised when their rent increases, or they are charged extra for services like transportation to their doctors.
Costs are often specific to the facility you will be moving to, but here are a few issues to think about.
- Try to Negotiate the Rent or Purchase Price of Your Retirement Community Housing
Whether you are renting a unit in an assisted living community or buying an apartment at an age-restricted retirement community, the price of the base unit and its add-ons may be negotiable. For example, don’t just accept that adding a bookshelf will cost you an additional $3,000. Negotiate. If you don’t understand something, ask. An elder law attorney can help you with understanding the contract and negotiating the terms.
- Ask if You Can Try Out Your Unit
If you are unsure whether you would like to live at the community after a tour, it may be possible to negotiate a short term stay for free to get the feel of the place, before you sign an agreement and put your money down.
- Find Out How Much the Retirement Facility Can Increase Your Rent
If you are renting, find out how much and how often the facility can increase your rent under the contract. These facilities often have a yearly rent hike for inflation.
- Be Clear About What Is and Is Not Included in Your Monthly Fee
Consult with an elder law attorney about standard contract terms with these facilities. Until you have experience with a retirement community, you may be surprised when you learn there are extra charges. For example, the facility may charge more for meal delivery to your room on a day when you are not feeling well.
- Ask About Past Rate Hikes
The past predicts the future. Ask the retirement facility to provide you with the frequency and amount they have raised prices for rent and services . Also ask the circumstances under which they could raise prices .
- Ask What You Should Be Asking
This list is just a start. Before signing a contract, ask the facility whether or not there are additional fees they have not discussed with you.
- Don’t Sign a Contract Without the Advice of an Elder Law Attorney
As with any contract that will have a major impact on your life, it’s wise to obtain qualified legal advice before signing. Elder law attorneys see retirement community contracts regularly. A good elder law attorney can spot the many critical issues in retirement community contracts and help protect your future.