The number of older people and retirees moving into rented accommodation has soared over the last few years. Between 2013 and 2017, an increase of 13% was recorded, according to the Telegraph. Whether certain groups and demographics of people are choosing to rent or buy, it’s still apparent that the modern rental market needs to keep up with a diverse range of customer needs.
Stephanie Smith, the Operations Director at Atlas Residential, highlights the needs of different demographics when it comes to good quality and affordable homes.
“When we talk about rented accommodation, too often the image that springs to mind is of young, single tenants sharing a flat, living close to work as they try to start climbing the career ladder. However, that stereotype which the UK subscribed to for the past 7+ years as Build to Rent came to fruition is becoming increasingly outdated, meaning that the way we design and deliver rental developments needs to change.
“I am a firm believer that this is a community for everyone, from a new graduate, indeed, to a retiree who has decided they don’t want the hassle of a mortgage or home repairs and prefer a social community setting.
“The latest English Housing Survey, for example, confirmed that more than 1.5 million people aged 65 and above now live in rented accommodation.”
Particularly vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly, could feel the effects of a lack of supply in rental homes much more than others. In 2017, approximately 254,000 older people rented privately, and that figure has now risen to 414,000. If this data is extrapolated, estimates suggest a third of those aged 60 and above could be renting privately by 2040.
According to the Centre for Ageing Better, by the time people reach their mid 80s, over half of people have difficulty doing at least one activity of daily living unattended. This means that in order to find good quality and long term tenants for their properties, landlords could need to ensure that their rental homes suit the needs of their prospective tenants.
As Smith continues, “The Centre for Ageing Better reports that private landlords have the highest proportion of poor quality housing of any tenure type, along with higher levels of disrepair. Poor quality accommodation is unsuitable for any resident, but particularly so for potentially vulnerable groups such as older renters. The difference that the build to rent sector can make is therefore significant.
“Tenancy length plays a role here too. Short-term tenancies are hardly likely to encourage older residents to agree home adaptations with their landlords, yet often a few simple adaptations such as handrails or ramps can enable older people to remain independent in their homes for many years.”
By making sure rental properties are adapted for more than just one type of demographic that has historically been associated with rental properties (young tenants that’ll be moving on soon), perhaps the market will become more inclusive, and beneficial for the diverse range of potential renters that live in the UK.