Dropping home ownership rates have resulted in a larger number of renters. It is not only younger people renting, but older people make up a portion of renters too. Research suggests that rental households between 2013 to 2026 will soar with a 75.9 per cent rise in renters over the age of 65 in New Zealand. Three-quarters of retired renters live in private rentals and 54 per cent receive an accommodation supplement to help pay the rent. Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell has also commented on this issue, ”We will see a growing group of retirees who are renting. Some of the challenges with renting are particularly hard for older New Zealanders: uncertainty around length of tenancy, the physical and financial demands of moving house and increased isolation if you don’t know your neighbours.” The New Zealand Housing Foundation, an independent charitable trust, found that the need for rental houses for older people was projected to increase 81 per cent over the next 12 years, from 2120 houses to 3830.
The affordability of housing is the main reason home ownership has halved to just 44% in 40 years. Balancing a mortgage when you retire is also an issue for many. It is expected that by 2021, home ownership levels in people 65 and over will have dropped below 50 per cent.
Many rentals are also unaffordable which has seen an increase in overcrowding as more people live together to make rentals work. “As housing affordability bites and home ownership drops, the next part in the continuum of addressing these issues is the rental market.” The costs of living are getting tougher for older people to meet. This will hit older people living on fixed incomes the hardest. Already there are an increasing number of older people struggling so much to make ends meet, they’re turning to campgrounds and caravan parks for accommodation. This will, in turn, put pressure on the Government to provide benefits to ‘top up’ and meet the needs. To help alleviate this stress, there is a need for strong tenancy laws that provide peace of mind for older renters.
If renting is the way of the future things like security of tenure is important for many older renters as changing rental prices affect those on a fixed income, like superannuation, to be able to afford to live. Landlords need to think about offering long term tenures as many people in that stage of their life do not want to move multiple times.
In addition to this, rentals need fit the needs of older people. Rentals that are low maintenance, well insulated, close to public transport and shops will appeal to this market. As will rentals that have good accessibility.
If renting is our future, making sure that the houses are fit for purpose is essential.