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Middle-aged now fastest growing demographic in private rental sector

The number of middle-age and later life tenants living in privately rented homes has accelerated faster than those under the age of 35 over the past decade, it’s been revealed.

Between 2011 and 2021, there has been a 110 per cent increase in the number of households privately renting in England where the household lead was aged between 55-64 to 485,000, whilst those aged between 45 and 54 increased 50 per cent to 691,000.

The number of households aged 65 and over hit 382,000 in 2021, up 38 per cent on a decade before.


Conversely, the number of 16 to 24 year-old households in the private rented sector declined 3.7 per cent over the same period to 560,000, with those aged between 25 and 34 increasing by 6.0 per cent to 1.37m.

Overall, households aged 35 or over living in rented homes totalled 2.5m, compared to 1.9m aged 34 or below, challenging the stereotype that the private rented sector is primarily a tenure for younger tenants.

Richard Rowntree, Paragon Bank managing director of mortgages - and the man who commissioned the research - says: “The private rented sector has evolved over the past decade and has seen strong growth in the number of middle-aged and later life tenants. The perception of rented property as being the preserve of the young is outdated.”

People are also living in their rented home for longer. There has been a 132 per cent increase in the number of households who have lived in their home for between five and 10 years over the past decade, with a 115 per cent increase in those living in a rented home for between 10 and 20 years.

Those living in a property for between one and two years increased by only five per cent. 

Rowntree adds: “There could be a number of reasons for the growth in older tenants. We are seeing a greater number of people living in rented accommodation for life, plus people are releasing the equity in their homes and opting to rent instead. The growth of single person households is also driving some of the growth.

“Landlords need to consider what these cohort of tenants need. For example, those between 35 and 55 are more likely to have family, so need larger detached or semi-detached homes, whilst those in later life require simpler homes to maintain that are close to amenities. In addition, tenants want flexibility about making adjustments to their homes, or keeping a pet.”


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