March 22, 2024 7:35 am

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

An organization advocating for older individuals has embraced most of Generation Rent’s core demands. Independent Age is pushing for the prompt enactment of the Renters Reform Bill, which includes abolishing Section 21 eviction rights, eliminating discrimination against benefit-receiving tenants, and extending notice periods.

Furthermore, they advocate for applying the Decent Homes Standard from social housing to the private rental sector. These initiatives aim to address key issues within the rental market and improve conditions for tenants across various demographics.

The charity additionally advocates for the landlord database, a crucial component of the Bill, to be accessible to older renters who are not internet-savvy, although Independent Age does not specify the logistics of achieving this.

According to a recent report from the organization, older private renters in England constitute a swiftly expanding demographic, having surged by 55% in the past decade. The report highlights that this group is frequently marginalized and underserved by the existing rental landscape, with a significant portion living on meagre incomes. Almost two in five older private renters in the UK are reportedly experiencing relative poverty after covering housing expenses.

The charity has identified that numerous older private renters are grappling with a housing crisis, contending with escalating rents, the constant threat of unjust eviction, and the necessity to settle for substandard and potentially harmful living conditions.

While acknowledging that no rental system is flawless for older private renters, the charity proposes that drawing insights from effective policies and practices both internationally and domestically could assist the UK Government in alleviating some of the challenges encountered by older renters with limited incomes.


Independent Age advocates: 


Security: In Germany, the average tenancy spans 11 years, a stark contrast to England’s 2.5 years. The disparity arises from Germany’s indefinite tenancies and restricted eviction grounds. Scotland’s move to ban fixed-term tenancies in 2017 has similarly fostered longer-term housing stability. Greater eviction protections are imperative for older English renters to facilitate aging in place, correlated with enhanced mental and physical well-being.

Threat of Homelessness: In England, around 12,000 individuals aged 65 and above faced homelessness or its imminent threat in 2022/23. In France, robust citizen rights aid those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Notably, over 100,000 French households secured rehousing between 2007 and 2016, underscoring the efficacy of such protective measures.

Affordability: Rents in the UK surged by 10.4% up to April 2023, posing significant challenges for individuals on fixed incomes. Independent Age’s survey revealed that 45% of older private renters in England expressed anxiety about rent affordability. Ireland’s establishment of Rent Pressure Zones, covering 56 areas with strict rent increase limits tied to inflation or 2%, has notably eased financial pressure. Approximately 71% of private renters aged 45 and above reside in these zones, moderating the impact of rising rents on fixed incomes. While Scotland’s temporary rent cap initiative mirrors this approach, sustained, long-term solutions are imperative.

Discrimination: In England, landlords and estate agents legally enforce blanket bans on benefit recipients, affecting nearly half of older private renters, with the figure rising to 77% among those aged over 70. Conversely, Washington DC prohibits housing discrimination based on income source, offering comprehensive protection to benefit recipients. Such policies play a crucial role in safeguarding individuals reliant on benefits and financial entitlements from discriminatory practices.

Evictions: According to Independent Age, numerous older private renters express concerns about requesting repairs, fearing potential retaliation evictions. This precarious situation often results in elderly tenants enduring substandard living conditions, granting landlords excessive control over their tenancy. Portugal implemented legislation in 2018 safeguarding vulnerable tenants, including those aged 65 and above or with significant disabilities, from eviction after 15 years of residence, addressing power imbalances between landlords and tenants. In Wales, tenants served with a no-fault eviction receive a six-month notice period, in contrast to England’s two months. Although Independent Age advocates for the outright prohibition of no-fault evictions, it views extended notice periods as a positive step.

Understanding older private renters: Independent Age highlights the inadequate understanding of the needs of older private renters by policymakers across the UK. New Zealand sets an example in comprehending this demographic’s requirements, conducting sustained research projects led by universities, public health entities, and think tanks. Findings from these initiatives have contributed to enhancing the situation for older renters. For instance, Kāinga Ora, a public housing landlord, aligns its accessibility policy with New Zealand’s Better Later Life Strategy, promoting independent aging in place for seniors, as endorsed by the Office for Seniors.

Joanna Elson, the charity’s CEO, emphasizes the pervasive anxiety experienced by many elderly private renters, who fear eviction, unaffordable rents, and requesting necessary repairs from their landlords. England’s inadequate tenant protection measures lag behind those of many other countries, highlighting the need for learning from global and regional examples to safeguard the growing population of elderly renters.

Elson notes that the proposed Renters Reform Bill includes several solutions identified in their recent report, offering potential protections against unjust evictions, discrimination based on income-related benefits, and rectifying the power disparity between tenants and landlords. Urging prompt passage of the Bill in its entirety, she asserts that its enactment represents the initial stride towards safeguarding renters of all ages.




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