Unsuitable, insecure and substandard homes

Independent Age’s 2018 report on privately rented accommodation reveals serious concerns about the living conditions faced by many older people and their ability to live a secure life in retirement. It also highlights how rising rents and insecure tenancies have left many people over 65 living in poverty and at risk of homelessness. 

Renters have, on average, much lower levels of savings and non-housing wealth (including pension savings) than homeowners. 

Around 1 in 4 private renters sometimes or often have too little money, while the vast majority of homeowners say they rarely or never have too little money (82%).

500,000 older people are privately renting. 1 in 3 are living in poverty once they’ve paid rent.

Living in poverty and at risk of homelessness

Joe is 72 and lives by himself in a private rented flat on the outskirts of London. He has lived there for seven years. Until recently, he had to make up a difference of £180 a month from the shortfall between his rent (£800 a month) and the level of Housing Benefit payable. Unable to obtain Discretionary Housing Payment, he did this initially through savings, and when he became eligible for
Attendance Allowance, he used this to pay the shortfall. 

His landlady has recently put the rent up to £950 (an increase of 18.75% – far above inflation). He has been paying this out of his pension income (he receives Pension Guarantee Credit) and his Attendance Allowance, but after paying his bills, he has very little left. Joe says he manages on about £60 a week, which just covers his food. 


“When you can’t work anymore, you’ve got to tighten your belt.”


His landlady has suggested he should leave, and he is worried that she will try to make him move. 


“She’s ok, but you never know when she’s going to bite. And of course, this isn’t mine, so I’ve just got to take what comes."


Have you been affected by these issues?

If you have been affected by any of the issues described in this blog, or simply need someone to reach out to, you can call Independent Age’s freephone helpline for information and advice on 0800 319 6789.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.