We generally associate renting with the carefree 20 to 30-something age group who may be choosing to rent whilst saving up for a deposit on their first home, or simply prefer the freedom to move around that renting offers them. However, that view may now be rather outdated.
One in every 12 private rental sector tenants is a pensioner, according to a survey from estate agents Countrywide. The typical retiree pays £810 per month in rent, which is around 12% less than the average tenant. Unsurprisingly, 75% of them choose to live in one or two-bedroom properties.
While older people have typically been amongst those most likely to own rather than rent, this rise in numbers is explained in part by the increase in the number of couples divorcing later in life. These so-called “silver splitters” are often unable or unwilling because of their age to take out a mortgage and so are moving into rental accommodation after leaving the marital home.
In addition, with house prices remaining high, many people reaching retirement are selling their family homes and moving into specialist retirement developments where renting is increasingly popular. Those choosing this option tend to prefer renting as it gives them more control, removes the cost and worry of maintaining their own property and spares relatives the problems associated with selling a property when they move into long-term care or die.
The UK’s chronic shortage of readily-affordable housing also inevitably means that many more people of all ages are likely to rent rather than buy. Research has revealed that the number of pensioners who will never have managed to buy their own home is set to rise and it’s estimated that up to a third of 60-year-olds will be renting by 2040. Fears have been expressed that this may have an impact on housing benefit costs because many pensioners may not be able to afford their rent from their pensions.
Figures from the former Council of Mortgage Lenders (now part of the new trade body UK Finance) show that half of those born in 1960 were homeowners by the age of 30, but barely a third of those born in 1980 have achieved this. The figure for those born in 1990 is likely to drop even further, with only a quarter likely to be able to buy before they are 30.