Older Renters “Living in Fear” in London


Funded by the Nationwide Foundation, Age UK London’s Older Private Sector Tenants Programme has spent the last 18 months investigating the state of the private rental market for older Londoners. This has resulted in the publication of our new research report: “Living in Fear: Experiences of Older Private-Renters in London”.

Though the typical discussion of the rental market focusses upon the difficulties faced by younger renters, Age UK London’s research has revealed that many of these issues are faced by the older generation too. In fact, these problems frequently have an especially large impact upon the wellbeing of older people – particularly in terms of health and social care, as greater emphasis is being placed on people managing conditions at home.

In addition, whilst a younger person might reasonably expect or hope to increase their earnings as their career develops, an increase in income is not often the case for an older person. As a result, many older Londoners are challenged with ever-tightening purse strings in the face of escalating rent costs.

Ever-increasing rents, combined with short-term tenancy agreements, have left many older renters living with a constant fear of eviction. Accordingly, many of our interviewees felt they could not truly call the place they lived a “home” and some were afraid to contact their landlord for essential repairs and maintenance through fear of being viewed as a “problem tenant”.

London’s older private tenants have raised concern in four main areas: the lack of security surrounding Assured Shorthold Tenancies; pensions not keeping up with rent increases; the failure of landlords to respond to requests for repairs; and the effects the state of disrepair can have upon older people’s health.

Age UK London will bring these findings to the attention of the Mayor of London and Councillors in every London borough at a launch event on Monday October 9th at the Coin Street Conference Centre from 10:30 to 16:00.

Speakers and panellists include: Leigh Pearce, Chief Executive, the Nationwide Foundation; Sian Berry AM, Chair of the London Assembly’s Housing Committee; representatives of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and London Councils; and representatives of organisations working with tenants and older people.

Paul Goulden, CEO, Age UK London said:

“It is absolutely clear that, for many older private-renters in London, the Private Rented Sector simply isn’t working. However there isn’t enough recognition that older people are among those struggling as private sector tenants. This is especially concerning as our research shows the huge impact that poor living conditions can have upon an older person’s quality of life, with the risk of increased pressure on health and social care services. With the number of older private renters in London expected to grow massively in the next twenty years, it is vitally important to improve the state of the rental market in the capital as quickly as possible.”

Leigh Pearce, Chief Executive, the Nationwide Foundation said:

“The problems of living in the Private Rented Sector have generally been perceived as only affecting the young, those waiting to get on the housing ladder, and increasingly, vulnerable families. Meanwhile the plight of older private tenants has too long been overlooked. The issues facing vulnerable, older private tenants must be urgently addressed, so that the changes needed to improve their living conditions can be implemented.