In line with his assurance on 9th February, at Moneylife Foundation's 9th Anniversary programme, Hardeep Singh Puri, Union minister of state for housing and urban affairs (independent charge), released 'Model Guidelines for Development and Regulation of Retirement Homes' on Wednesday.
"The model guideline envisages to promote quality of life for the elderly people of the country and ensures protection of their rights. I am sure that implementation of this guideline by all the stakeholders will address core issues of the senior most section of the society," Mr Puri said while releasing the model guidelines for retirement homes.
The model guidelines from ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA) would enable states and union territories (UTs) to establish transparency and accountability with customised redressal of issues pertaining to exclusive housing projects for senior citizens like retirement homes.
"It will enable an appropriate regulatory environment where the rights of senior citizens are protected and their special needs are addressed. It will bring investment in this special category of real estate, where demand is expected to grow steadily throughout the 21st century," Mr Puri says.
The model guidelines specifies 'basic rights of resident of retirement home' and also prescribe the model tripartite agreement. It also suggested standards and norms for building design, green building principles, lifts and staircases, corridors, services standards and living environment to be provided to senior citizens in retirement homes along with the basic amenities; medical and fitness, safety and security.
According to the minister, the objective of these model guidelines is to guide state and Union Territories (UTs) and urban local bodies (ULBs) towards promoting quality of life for the senior citizens through setting up norms and standards to be followed by the retirement homes operators, service-providers and developers in respect of retirement home projects.
The ministry had appointed a committee to examine the needs of senior citizens and other related apparatus that deals with this subject. The committee referred to a report on retirement homes prepared and submitted by Moneylife Foundation.
A report from Moneylife Foundation prepared for HDFC had highlighted the need to cater to the regulation of retirement homes in India. The study focuses on the experiences of residents of retirement homes in the cities of Coimbatore, Pune and Bengaluru that lead the development of retirement homes in their States.
A key finding of the Moneylife Foundation study was that "close to 65% of the respondents, who were interviewed had not signed a contractual agreement that defines the terms of service, close to 90% of them had not anticipated any increases in maintenance charges over time and over 70% said that there was no residents council that would give them some say in the running of the homes".
The study further observes that in the absence of specific regulations to govern retirement homes, the residents are vulnerable to various forms of exploitation and mistreatment and their only recourse is to file a civil case, which is cumbersome. Most grievances of the residents of the retirement homes are related to poor delivery of services, despite collection of high maintenance charges. These grievances primarily arise because of lack of transparency and accountability on the part of promoter, developer and service provider with regard to their financial transactions and promised service and facilities, the report pointed out.
In a statement, the ministry says, "As brought out in the said Report, the problems of the residents of the retirement homes pertain to the contractual relationship. Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) provides for a framework for regulating all real estate projects. In addition to this MoHUA also has the mandated to prepare policies, standards and good practices for real estate sector including housing, urban infrastructure and services."
"MoHUA works in collaboration with state governments, as matters relating to 'land and colonization' are constitutionally mandated to the states and UTs. Recognising its role and responsibility with regard to the regulation of real estate in particular and urban development and housing in general, MoHUA has drafted a set of model guidelines, which can be implemented by the state governments and union territories to regulate the retirement homes in order to ensure independent and dignified life after retirement," it added.
The population of senior citizens is expected to grow to 173 million by 2025—more than double in a little over one decade—and will further increase to about 240 million by 2050. The population share of senior citizens will increase to 19% in 2050 from 8% in 2015 and it is expected that by the end of the century, senior citizens will constitute nearly 34% of the total population of the country.
The Model Guidelines States that:
Retirement homes should be aligned with the principles, guidelines, norms, etc., as prescribed in 'national building code' (nbc), 'model building bye laws' and 'harmonised guidelines and space standards for barrier free built environment for persons with disability and elderly persons'.
Elderly friendly built environment like lifts with audio and visual signage and signalling systems, wheelchair accessibility, mandatory ramps, design of spaces to enable barrier free movement, anti-skid tiles in bathrooms and stairs, elderly friendly design of door-knobs, hand rails, and furniture, kitchens with gas leak detection systems, power back-up facilities in corridors, lobby, lifts and apartments.
Compliance with green building principles as provided in model building bye laws and use of non-polluting and renewable energy.
Provision of common basic services like 24X7 water and electricity supply, maintenance of proper hygiene, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, security and housekeeping, single window facilities and helpdesk, transportation assistance, yoga and fitness facilities, and care giving facilities.
Provision of basic medical, safety and security services like 24x7 on-site ambulance service, mandatory tie-up with emergency facilities with the nearest hospitals and pharmacy, medical emergency room, regular medical check-up of residents, emergency alarm systems, trained and skilled security personnel, CCTV cameras in common areas, prior police verification of all the personnel deployed in the retirement homes.
Customised services over and above the basic common services like internal and external housekeeping, managing dining services, and assistance with legal services, if required by the residents has also been prescribed.
Transparency in Fund Utilisation
Provision of a twofold mechanism in the form of refundable interest-free maintenance security deposit (IFMS) and maintenance charges. IFMS to be paid by the allottee which is refundable within a maximum period of three months from the date of refund application. Maintenance charges to be paid by the resident on lump-sum or monthly/ quarterly/ yearly instalments on mutually agreed terms.
Regulation of Retirement Homes
Retirement home apartments can only be sold after registration under the respective Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) of the states/UTs. To protect the rights of the residents a list of 'basic rights of the allottee/resident of a retirement home' has been stipulated.
The model guidelines provide for disclosure of technical skill of the service-provider at the time of executing the 'agreement to sale' in the form of a 'tri-partite agreement' to be executed among the developer, service provider /retirement home operators and allottee.
To ensure implementation of the guidelines, a task force for constant dialogue with states/UTs and other stakeholders will be set by ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA).
Setting up of appropriate monitoring committees by the state/ut authorities for timely implementation of all applicable laws, regulations, rules and guidelines governing the retirement homes, under the supervision of MoHUA.
The model guidelines will encourage inclusive growth wherein states/UTs are required to review and align their policies and regulations and institutionalise appropriate mechanisms on retirement homes.
The model guidelines will enable all states/UTs to align their policies and regulations in line with these Model Guidelines to ensure the protection of rights of the senior citizens and promote a dignified life after retirement. The implementation of these guidelines will boost investment in the retirement home segment, contribute in employment generation in service sector industries associated with retirement homes.