Num­ber of re­tired who are rent­ing homes has soared

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFESTYLE - By AMELIA MUR­RAY

The num­ber of re­tirees and older peo­ple mov­ing into rented ac­com­mo­da­tion has in­creased by 13 per cent in the last four years — as a re­sult of a num­ber of fac­tors in­clud­ing higher prop­erty main­te­nance costs, dif­fi­culty in down­siz­ing and the need for the el­derly to move closer to other fam­ily mem­bers.

The data shows that it is not just the priced-out younger gen­er­a­tions who are swelling the num­ber of ten­ants.

Be­tween 2012 and 2016 the num­ber of re­tired ren­ters soared by 200,000 ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Na­tional Land­lords As­so­ci­a­tion.

Fig­ures from the first quar­ter of this year showed a con­tin­u­ing trend. Ac­cord­ing to the data, 19.96 per cent of ren­ters are re­tired — a rise of three per­cent­age points since the end of 2016.

Linda Clarke has been rent­ing for the past five years and has no re­grets. Her de­ci­sion to sell and rent came af­ter a long bat­tle to keep up with the re­pairs of the three-bed­room semide­tached house in Ec­cles. Her hus­band died in the late Eight­ies.

She said: “The house wasn’t fall­ing down by any means, but it needed up­dat­ing. The kitchen was new in 1987.

“It’s al­right if you know a plumber, an elec­tri­cian or a builder, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel I was in a po­si­tion to fix up the house my­self.”

The first prop­erty she rented was not ideal. It was a fur­nished flat in a large com­plex. Now she and her part­ner Jose Louzeiro rent a four-bed semi, also in Ec­cles, for £785 a month.

The main­te­nance is han­dled by her land­lord.

She is at risk of fu­ture in­creases in rent or from the land­lord serv­ing her no­tice, but she is con­fi­dent that her in­come — either earned or pen­sion — will be ad­e­quate.

She has no chil­dren and is not anx­ious to be­queath sav­ings to any­one else. “Right now, I just want to live for the mo­ment”, she said.

The bur­den of prop­erty mainte- nance is a ma­jor fac­tor in en­cour­ag­ing older peo­ple to rent, said Chris Nor­ris, head of pol­icy at the Na­tional Land­lords As­so­ci­a­tion.

But the lack of suit­able prop­erty into which older own­ers can down­size, cou­pled with high rates of stamp duty, mean many sell and cease be­ing home­own­ers al­to­gether.

“Home­own­ers can of­ten feel op­pressed by the costs and stress of up­keep, es­pe­cially when things go wrong and they don’t know who to turn to”, he said.

“Be­ing a pri­vate renter is rela- tively stress free.”

Mr Nor­ris said the grow­ing in­ci­dence of re­la­tion­ship break­down in later life was also driv­ing an in­crease in rent­ing.

But he warned that the pri­vate rental mar­ket was not serv­ing older ten­ants very well.

A large pro­por­tion of prop­er­ties to let are in shared blocks of older build­ings with stairs, and un­suit­able to re­tirees as a re­sult, he said. He said space is also an is­sue. “De­vel­op­ers don’t tend to con­sider the size of a prop­erty in square feet. But when some­one is down­siz­ing from a fam­ily home to a two-bed flat the dif­fer­ence in space can be quite a shock,” he said.

Paul Sta­ley, di­rec­tor of the pri­vate rental sec­tor at SDL Group, a prop­erty ser­vices com­pany, sug­gested older peo­ple could be seek­ing a more flex­i­ble life­style and not be tied down to a mort­gage.

“Older ren­ters may also be look­ing to re­lease equity from their homes and are sim­ply not yet ready to en­ter a re­tire­ment com­plex”, he added.

Pa­trick Con­nolly, a char­tered fi­nan­cial plan­ner at Chase De Vere, the fi­nan­cial ad­vice firm, said one ben­e­fit of rent­ing is that there is far more flex­i­bil­ity in terms of where you live. It’s “much eas­ier and cheaper to move” as a ten­ant, he said.

He also sug­gested that rent­ing could boost re­tire­ment in­come as older peo­ple may be able to save larger amounts into pen­sions and investments be­cause they don’t have money tied up in prop­erty. But he also warns of the risks. The big­gest down­side to rent­ing in older age is the lack of se­cu­rity of ten­ure. Te­nancy agree­ments do not last for­ever.

The rent could also rise at any time. Mr Con­nolly said this could make it more dif­fi­cult to bud­get ef­fec­tively as “they have lit­tle con­trol, out­side of their con­tract”.

He said the is­sue is “com­pounded”, on a com­par­a­tive ba­sis, “in the It’s al­right if you know a plumber, an elec­tri­cian or a builder, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel I was in a po­si­tion to fix up the house my­self.” Linda Clarke, renter

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