A government report suggests the private rental sector is attracting an increasing number of older tenants - and the sector needs to change to accommodate this growing demographic.
‘Living Longer: Changes in Housing Tenure over Time’ is a report from the Office for National Statistics which says that although three-quarters of people aged 65 years and over in England own their home outright, an increasing proportion are renting.
It says younger people are less likely to own their own home than in the past and more likely to be renting.
Half of people in their mid-30s to mid-40s had a mortgage in 2017, compared with two-thirds 20 years earlier; and people in their mid-30s to mid-40s are three times more likely to rent than 20 years ago.
A third of this age group were renting from a private landlord in 2017, compared with fewer than one in 10 in 1997.
The ONS says: “If this trend persists into their older ages, in the future, older people will be more likely to be living in the private rental sector than today. Changes in housing tenure patterns could have implications for what life will be like for older people in the future.”
In response to the report Chris Knight - chief executive of part of the Legal & General empire - says: “These forecast statistics seem to be only an extrapolation, comparing the actions of the current generation with the previous generation. It’s also very possible that tomorrow’s retired people will adapt in different ways, such as entering the housing ladder in later life and borrowing into retirement.”
And Lindsay Judge, principal policy and research analyst at the Resolution Foundation, says: “The 30-year fall in home ownership among young families rightly receives widespread attention. But today’s ONS analysis also highlights the lesser discussed effect of this shift – the rise of the middle-aged renter, and the possibility of many more families renting privately in retirement.
“The prospect of renting privately in retirement will alarm many people as it could mean high costs, and low levels of housing security. It also carries huge cost implications for the state as the UK’s housing benefit bill could escalate. As well as supporting home ownership, the government must reform the private rented sector to ensure it provides homes fit for older as well as younger people.”