Laura Sharman 27 March 2018

Half a million older private renters are ‘invisible’ in housing policy

Older private renters are being overlooked by housing policy despite being more likely to report cold and damp in their homes, a charity has warned today.

In a new report, Independent Age reveals that around a third (32%) of older private renters feel their accommodation isn’t suitable for their needs. Twice as many private renters aged 65 and over also say their homes are cold and damp compared to older homeowners or social renters.

The charity says the number of older households living in private rented accommodation will increase by two-thirds over the next 20 years, to around 549,000 households.

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.

Ms Morrison added: ‘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.’

Independent Age is calling for local rent controls and greater protections for private renters to be adopted, enough social housing to be made available to older people on low fixed incomes, and for more investment to make new build homes suitable for an ageing population.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said there needs to be a national focus on tackling a chronic shortage of homes suitable to support our ageing population.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: 'Many councils are already tackling issues in the private rental sector by bringing in landlord licensing schemes, but councils need more freedom and flexibility in establishing such schemes to help ensure homes are maintained to a high standard so tenants of all ages know they are living in a decent, safe and secure home.

'Giving councils the freedom to borrow and invest in building new housing and retain receipts from Right to Buy sales in full so they can replace homes sold, will help them meet the health needs of their older residents.'

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