THE housing crisis is forcing older renters living on low incomes out of their homes and the communities they may have lived in most of their lives, into less familiar areas that are typically deprived, says Independent Age, the charity supporting those in financial hardship in later life.

The organisation is calling on the UK Government to give private renters, including older people on a low income, greater security by:

  • Passing the Renters (Reform) Bill in full as quickly as possible.
  • Committing to uprate Local Housing Allowance every year to match rent increases.
  • Giving local authorities the power to regulate landlords and rent in their areas.

The charity has released a report, No place for older renters: How the geography of older private and social renters has changed. The research shares analysis of local census data from 2011 to 2021 from over 250 local authorities across England to understand where the numbers of older social and private renters have changed.

The analysis shows that ten of the top 20 local authorities seeing the largest increase in older private rented households are coastal areas, including Blackpool, Torbay and Fylde with all the others being northern towns, or in and around Outer London, including Hounslow, Slough and Watford. Older people – many of whom live with long term conditions and disabilities – can find it harder to access necessary services such as health facilities in coastal areas, particularly those which are deprived.

Fourteen of the 20 local authorities that saw the largest decreases in older private rented households were in Inner London plus one northern city – Liverpool – and two southern cities – Brighton and Hove and Guilford. The research suggests that the housing crisis is forcing older people on a low income to move away from their friends and family, their GP and other local services due to high rents. This will likely lead to increased loneliness and poorer health outcomes for people in this situation.

The charity says that there is an increased concentration of older renters in areas of deprivation and that there is growing income inequality amongst those in later life between those who rent and those who own their home outright. Older private renters are almost three times more likely to be in poverty that those who own their home mortgage free.

Independent Age is also calling on the Government to increase its investment in social housing. The research showed that out of the 262 local authorities, only two saw an increase in the number of older renters in social housing. The charity says that the lack of available social housing may be driving the demand for private rented accommodation among those in later life.

Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age said: “Moving is a stressful experience for many, but for older private renters on a low income, being forced to move out of their community because of the cost is hellish. The physical difficulties of packing up belongings, and the fact that there are less suitable available properties for those with long term conditions or access needs – for example needing a wheelchair accessible property – can make the process of moving incredibly distressing.

“That’s why older private renters living on a low income desperately need more protections. If they are forced to move out of the towns they know because of high rent, it is likely they will be cut off from friends and family and move into areas where access to services, including the NHS can be harder, which can lead them to experience worse health outcomes.

“This is not just a disaster for them, but a disaster for our society as a whole. None of us want to live our later years isolated, in poor quality housing or have our freedom to choose where we live taken away. Yet this is becoming a reality for a growing number of older people in financial hardship in the private rented sector, and it looks set to increase. The UK Government must take action now.”

* Read No place for older renters: How the geography of older private and social renters has changed here.

* Source: Independent Age