Finding a decent rental property becoming a pipe dream for many older renters

Sep 25, 2019
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Millennials are not alone in their plight to meet the rising costs of renting, with older renters also facing the same problems. Source: Getty.

As the old saying goes, ‘Home is where the heart is’, but what happens if you don’t own a property of your own and are then hit with the difficult prospect of finding a suitable and affordable rental property? That is the problem facing millions of older renters around the world, as decent private rental properties edge further out of reach for those with a restrictive budget or who would rather spend their hard-earned savings on living life to the fullest.

New research out of the United Kingdom has shone a light on the topic once again, revealing that Millennials who are struggling to get a foot onto the property ladder are not alone in their plight to meet the rising costs of renting, with so-called older renters also facing the same problems when it comes to finding somewhere they can afford, would like to live and that is suitable for their needs.

The study carried out by experts from the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence and published this week revealed that the number of people renting in middle-age is on the rise, despite  those born between 1981 and 1996 generally referred to as “generation rent” due to the fact that many youngsters are struggling to buy houses as early as previous generations did.

However, unaffordable rental costs, along with a lack of suitable and desirable dwellings, is also a major issue for those aged between 35 and 54-years old, who were the focus of the research, with author Dr Kim McKee saying: “Many renters felt quite frustrated and disappointed by their situation. The private rental sector isn’t where they want to be in the longer term … but they felt the ability to change or transform their situation was quite difficult.”

And while it is often assumed that younger generations rely too heavily on ‘the bank of Mum and Dad’ to cover the cost of a deposit, or help them live more comfortably, the research also found that the same is true for many people in middle-age, with many tenants admitting to receiving vital financial support from family members in order to meet their rent payments or save enough for a mortgage deposit, while others needed loved ones to act as a guarantor on their contracts.

McKee added: “Some older renters are still relying on family support to help them meet their housing costs or to access home ownership, this suggests the bank of mum and dad is still relevant, it’s not just a young person’s issue.”

The small study was conducted via telephone interviews with renters between the ages of 35 and 54, living across England and Scotland, and identified common issues of affordability, poor quality homes and insecure properties.

It also raised concerns around the suitability of the private rental sector for ageing renters, with McKee pointing out that properties are usually not adapted – or able to be adapted – for tenants with health problems or disabilities, for example.

She added: “There’s also the issue of ageing bodies and how the need for adaptations as people age and they’ve maybe got health and mobility issues, the private rental sector isn’t really that well geared up to deal with that, especially in shared accommodation. So there’s challenges around that.”

If you are currently renting a property in Australia, or are thinking about doing so, you may be eligible for Rent Assistance payments from the government, providing you already receive some form of welfare payment, whether that is the Age Pension or Newstart. In order to be eligible, you must also be paying either private rent, board and lodging fees, fees in a retirement village or site or mooring fees if your primary residence is a caravan, relocatable home or a boat.

The rate of Rent Allowance you receive is dependent upon your individual circumstances, as well as the amount you are paying to live in your home. For example if you are single your fortnightly rent must be at least $123.20 to qualify. For single Australians to receive the maximum Rent Assistance payment of $138 every two weeks, their rent must be $305.33 or more per fortnight.

The figures differ for single sharers and couples, including couples who may be separated temporarily perhaps due to illness. Couples must pay combined rent of at least $372.73 per fortnight to receive the maximum fortnightly Rent Assistance payment of $130. The figures also change if you have dependent children living with you.

Do you live in a rental property? Do you struggle to meet your rent payments?

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