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The new population of renters

In recent years there has been an increasing number of older adults needing rental accommodation in New Zealand.

A new study by the Population Ageing Technical Advisory Group has found the country’s housing stock is ill-prepared to deal with a growing number of older tenants.  The Bay of Plenty case study was conducted by consultants Bev James and Kay Saville-Smith. The group said its findings could be extrapolated to the whole country.


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. The report said Maori people were more likely to be renting in retirement than non-Maori. Three-quarters of retired renters live in private rentals and 54 per cent receive an accommodation supplement to help pay the rent.


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 affordable which as 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.”

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.


There is little rental accommodation that is targeted to or catering for older people. In the Bay of Plenty especially, there is a lack of one to two bedroom properties for older people wanting to downsize for retirement.

Older people were often more vulnerable to the health problems that could come with cold, damp housing. Consultant Saville-Smith said that many older people chose to go to rest homes rather than stay in rental properties.

She said most landlords had not thought about how they could cater for older tenants. There are grants available to modify housing but Saville-Smith said many investors incorrectly thought the work would reduce the value of their properties. “In general it will increase the value of their houses.” With an increasing number of older tenants coming into the market, if landlords could provide more suitable properties for them, it would prove to be a good business decision.


If you are struggling to make ends meet click here to see if you qualify for an accommodation supplement.

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams
Eve Williams is the Production and Social Media Administrator for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.

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