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Older private renters ‘invisible’ in policy-making decisions

A national focus is needed to tackle the “chronic shortage” of homes to support the ageing population, the LGA has said.

The call comes in response to a report by charity Independent Age, which claims that older private renters are “invisible” in policy decisions on housing and age-related issues.

The report, ‘Unsuitable, insecure and substandard homes: The barriers faced by older private renters,' says that older private renters are twice as likely to report cold and damp in their homes and many expect to experience financial difficulty in the future.

Over a quarter of private renters aged over-65 often have too little money, and a third are below the poverty line after they have paid their rent.

Almost a third of older private renters feel that their accommodation is not suitable for their needs.

The report recommends that local rent controls be applied in order to ensure that people are not priced out of areas, and that enough social housing be made available to older people.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said that councils need more freedom to establish schemes, such as landlord licensing, to help to ensure that homes are maintained to a high standard so that tenants of all ages can know that their home is safe and secure.

According to the report, one in 10 of all private rented households are occupied by older people, whereas the LGA has warned that housing for elderly people accounts for just 6% of existing housing stock.

Seccombe said that this means that “there needs to be a national focus on tackling a chronic shortage of homes suitable to support our ageing population and reforms that will maintain and improve housing standards.”

She added: “Giving councils the freedom to borrow and invest in building new housing and retain receipts from Right to Buy sales in full so they can replace homes sold, will help them meet the health needs of their older residents.”

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, called it “shameful” that so many older people are living below the poverty threshold.

“Government and local authorities must ensure that renters of all ages have a safety net to prevent them being forced into poverty, and that they have recourse to challenge landlords when they feel that they are being poorly treated,” she added.

Top image: Obencem

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