What is an almshouse?

The recognised definition of an almshouse is:

An almshouse is a unit of residential accommodation (usually a house or flat) which belongs to a charity and is provided exclusively to meet the charity’s purpose such as but not limited to the relief of financial need or infirmity and is occupied or is available for occupation under a licence by a qualified beneficiary who may be required to contribute a weekly sum towards its maintenance. An almshouse charity is a charity which is established to provide one or more almshouses.

General Description to work alongside this definition:

  1. An almshouse charity is a charity for the relief of financial hardship by the provision of housing and associated services or benefits which:
    (a) is subject to the jurisdiction of the Charity Commission; and
    (b) must (or is authorised to) provide its primary benefit by the grant of a licence to occupy the accommodation that it owns to its beneficiaries
  2.  In addition, an almshouse charity is likely to have one or more of the following features:
    (a) the origin of the charity is a private gift for the relief of poverty;
    (b) the beneficiaries are required to pay a weekly maintenance contribution that must not be set at a level that would cause hardship;
    (c) the nature of the accommodation is such that beneficiaries must show particular consideration for the needs of other residents;
    (d) a significant proportion of the accommodation is permanent endowment:
    (e) the beneficial class or the geographical area from which it can be drawn is restricted.