Number of later life renters set to grow and face financial precarity

The Centre for Ageing Better has voiced concerns about increasing numbers of people spending their later lives in unsafe and inaccessible rented homes and facing financial precarity.

The past ten years have seen a sharp rise in the number of adults in middle age living in the private rented sector, new data from the English Housing Survey shows.

Since 2011-12, the proportion of people aged 45 to 54 living in the private rented sector has increased by over 50% to 740,000 households, or 17% of this age group. And the proportion of people aged 50 to 64 renting has nearly doubled over the past decade to 11% or 477,000 households in 2021-22.

Holly Holder, Deputy Director for Homes at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “While younger people remain the most likely to be part of the private rented sector, the rising number of older adults privately renting homes requires attention.

“There are widely recognised problems with our country’s privately rented homes. And the most recent English Housing Survey has only confirmed this. Some 23% of private rentals are failing to meet the basic standards of safety and adequacy, as defined by the Government’s Decent Homes Standard. This is the biggest proportion of poor-quality homes of any housing tenure. And as we know, these poor-quality homes can have worrying consequences, prompting or exacerbating health problems.

“This trend is also concerning as most older people are living on a fixed incomes while rents continue to rise.”

“The stereotype that all older adults are wealthy homeowners is a persistent one. But the growing number of people over 45 who rent, rather than, own their home runs counter to it. It’s time to acknowledge that all groups can face financial challenges. And in older age groups we are seeing increasing levels of poverty. Half of 50-69 year olds report that they would be unable to save any money in the coming 12 months. Action must be taken to ensure that everyone can live in a decent home regardless of tenure and income.”

The mean rent for the private renter sector is now £209 per week, according to this year’s English Housing Survey, while the full basic state pension is just £141.85 a week and the full new State Pension is £185.15 per week, although not all pensioners receive the full amount – making it vital that those below the threshold apply for Pension Credit, which in turn can give them access to Housing Benefit and other forms of support.

You can find out if you qualify for additional benefits by using this handy calculator on the Independent Age website:

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