Half a million ‘invisible’ older private renters overlooked

A new report by the Independent Age charity has found that older people in private rented accommodation are ‘invisible’ in policy decisions on housing and age-related issues.

With one in 10 of all private rented households are occupied by older people, approximately half a million people, the report also finds that 32 per cent of older private renters feel their accommodation isn’t suitable for their needs. Of equal concern, it is projected that the number of older households living in private rented accommodation will increase by around two-thirds, from 338,000 households to around 549,000, over the next two decades.

Unsuitable, insecure and substandard homes: The barriers faced by older private renters found that 29 per cent of older private renters say they sometimes or often have too little money, with one in seven saying they don’t go out socially because they can’t afford it. Furthermore, one third of private renters aged 65 and over are living below the poverty threshold after they have paid their rent and twice as many private renters aged 65 and over saying they have cold and damp in their homes compared to older homeowners or social renters.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “Life as an older person in private rented accommodation can be unstable and financially insecure, yet they are often invisible in thinking about housing. Older private renters face a delicate balancing act of rising rents on a low fixed income, the unnerving possibility of being forced out of their home at short notice, dealing with unscrupulous landlords, and the fact that their home may not even be suitable for their needs. They may also lack the emotional and familial support needed for this.

“It is shameful that a third are already living below the poverty threshold. Government and local authorities must ensure that renters of all ages have a safety net to prevent them being forced into poverty, and that they have recourse to challenge landlords when they feel that they are being poorly treated.”

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