Age UK says the number of older people renting in the private sector is set to soar in the near future - but it insists there must be improved conditions.
The charity draws on separate research from the National Landlords Associaiton and the Centre for Housing Policy at York University to suggest that the number of retired people moving into the private rented sector has increased by 200,000 over the last four years with a possibility that around a third of over-60s could be living in private rented accommodation by 2040.
Currently households aged over 65 account for fewer than one in 10 of private renters.
However, calls to Age UK’s Advice line between 2013 and 2016 uncovered a range of poor quality housing including repeated failures to carry out timely repairs to essential services such as heating and cookers; damp, mould and cold going unchecked; high rent rises imposed following improvements; insecure tenancies; and landlords refusing to allow the installation of aids and adaptations that older people need, like ramps or handrails.
Age UK says that problems like these show the need for urgent legal reform in the private rented sector, to strengthen the rights of older tenants and ensure they are treated fairly.
It also calls for more resources for local environmental health services, better access to aids and adaptations for older people, and more comprehensive and more available local housing advice.
“Calls to our advice line show that some highly vulnerable older people are enduring grim living conditions in the private rented sector and this is truly shocking” claims Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK.
“Older tenants in the private sector are almost entirely reliant on the decency and professionalism of landlords and letting agents, and sadly this is leaving some at risk of neglect and in the worse cases of bullying and abuse.”