Why rent­ing can buy time for down­siz­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

aged over 60 could be liv­ing in pri­vate rented ac­com­mo­da­tion. It also sug­gests that pri­vate land­lords, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions need to do more to en­sure hous­ing is suitable for older peo­ple. Both Sir Mar­tyn, 73, and Patsy, 67, still work full time and they re­cently es­tab­lished a com­pany to­gether called Your Big Day TV, which pro­duces birth­day and an­niver­sary videos us­ing news ar­chives. Rent­ing has not only freed them up to fo­cus on their busi­ness but given them a sense of em­pow­er­ment. “Sud­denly we have free­dom and op­tions,” says Patsy, who pi­o­neered a form of pri­vate rented af­ford­able hous­ing back in the Nineties by help­ing to cre­ate Real Es­tate In­vest­ment Trusts. “We have no mo­bil­ity in this coun­try as we are stuck in homes we own – you can’t sell, can’t move, can’t down­size, can’t free up larger prop­er­ties. If you had a real af­ford­able rental sec­tor it would give huge mo­bil­ity,” she adds. “All your op­tions open up very quickly when you rent. The sense of free­dom is fan­tas­tic. “If some­thing goes wrong we just ring the owner and he ar­ranges for a builder or an elec­tri­cian to come around and fix the prob­lem. We don’t pay for that; he has also in­sured the house, so there are sav­ings in rent­ing.”

It has the added ben­e­fit of en­abling them to think about their next move; in their case, whether to jump back on the hous­ing lad­der and find a home that will suit their needs should they be­come less mo­bile.

But it hasn’t been all plain sail­ing: they had to move out of their first rental prop­erty in Chelsea pre­ma­turely when the owner de­cided he wanted to move back in. Hunt­ing for a prop­erty was tricky too, says Sir Mar­tyn. “I was ap­palled by what was on the mar­ket.”

The cou­ple are lucky that hav­ing a large amount of eq­uity has al­lowed them free­dom to buy if they want to. “The cost of pur­chas­ing a re­tire­ment prop­erty can be im­prac­ti­cal even if at­tain­able for many peo­ple,” says Gil­lian Gir­ling, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Gir­lings, which has 2,500 prop­er­ties for over55s in 600 de­vel­op­ments across the UK. “Rent­ing can en­able them to move to a re­tire­ment de­vel­op­ment and re­lease cap­i­tal to sup­ple­ment their re­tire­ment, or gift to fam­ily.

“No longer hav­ing to man­age prop­erty main­te­nance or pay stamp duty for a prop­erty, rent­ing al­lows more free­dom to try out new lo­ca­tions, per­haps by the coast or city cen­tre, with­out the com­mit­ment of buy­ing or be­ing priced out of pop­u­lar re­tire­ment hotspots.”

For many re­tired peo­ple, such as Keith and Teresa Davy, rent­ing means be­ing able to live in an area where they couldn’t af­ford to buy. The Davys live in a re­tire­ment apart­ment in Bournemouth run by Gir­lings. The com­pany lets out homes on as­sured ten­an­cies, en­abling peo­ple like the Davys to re­main in the prop­er­ties for life, rather than the usual as­sured short­hold ten­ancy in the open mar­ket.

“We couldn’t af­ford to buy the flat we’re liv­ing in, so rent­ing has en­abled us to live in an area we re­ally like,” says Keith, 77. The pay £775 a month for their one-bed­room home, in­clud­ing ser­vice charges.

The cou­ple pre­vi­ously owned a re­tire­ment flat in Torquay, which they sold for just £55,000, so a move to Bournemouth, where mod­est onebed­room apart­ments can cost £150,000, would have been im­pos­si­ble had they not found some­where to rent.

Be­com­ing ten­ants has also al­lowed them to free up their cap­i­tal and do what they love best – travel. Since their move to Dorset a year ago, they have been abroad four times and are look­ing for­ward to another hol­i­day in Ma­jorca.

A pent­house in Bris­tol for rent with Sav­ills for £2,500 a month, main; Home­court House in Ex­eter, be­low, onebed­room from £725 per month with Gir­lings

Sir Mar­tyn Lewis and Patsy Baker, who are rent­ing

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