It’s no secret that demand for rental property is rising. The letting industry’s main professional body, ARLA Propertymark, has reported year-on-year growth in the number of new prospective tenants registering per lettings branch during 2021. In its most recent report, it revealed that every month, agents were processing an average of 83 renters hoping to secure a tenancy.
There will be assumptions as to who joins the queue of hopeful tenants: students looking to secure a let for the next academic year; couples and friends renting for the first time; professionals relocating to a new city and young families moving for more space or an extra bedroom.
Many landlords will not think of the queue as being populated by over 55s keen to live the rental lifestyle but analysis conducted over the past two years reveals there is a growing number of affluent, able and active mature tenants.
Not catering for the over 55s is a huge oversight that may be capping the success of a buy-to-let venture. For starters, the number of people turning to tenant status later in life is rising. In 2020, a report showed the upper-middle age and retirement brackets were the fastest growing tenant groups.
The rise, charted between 2010 and 2020, should prompt landlords to sit up and take notice. The number of privately renting tenants aged between 55 and 64 years old had risen by 118% in the decade, while tenants aged 65 or older had grown by 93% over the same period. The growth isn’t a fad either, with research by the Centre for Ageing Better forecasting that by 2040, a third of people aged over 60 could be living in private rented accommodation.
So why are older tenants taking over the private rental sector? The website Property Reporter highlighted how peaking house prices have started a movement among over 55s to sell up and cash in. Swapping a large personally-owned family home for a landlord-owned rented property not only frees up capital for the ‘golden years’ but if the move is to somewhere smaller or with cheaper running costs, it also makes day-to-day living more affordable.
As well as having more money to fund a retirement lifestyle, renting is appealing as many of the major maintenance aspects are a burden borne by the landlord and not the tenant – freeing time as well as money.
Time and funds are more important than ever among the over 55s – many of whom are working part-time or are fully retired and in excellent health. Mature renters appreciate the same flexible aspects of renting as Generation Z and Millennials do, such as the ability to try new locations, less responsibility and lower set up costs – no stamp duty or large deposits to pay, for example.
For others, trading an ‘owned’ property for something rented becomes part of a sensible estate planning exercise, with an inclination to remain in rented accommodation for as long as is feasible. With this in mind, landlords looking for long-term, asset-rich tenants should consider the over 55s a valuable target market.
Appealing to over 55s may mean tweaking your usual approach to lettings, and you may wish to consider the following:-
Offer long-term tenures
Many over 55s will be embarking on ‘one last move’ or a downsizing exercise, therefore they want long-term security without the hassle of having to uproot every 6 or 12 months. Landlords can trade a tenancy agreement of two, three or even more years with a tenant who should be reliable and respectful.
Don’t assume over 55s are IT illiterate
Mature tenants will look for home tech as much as Millennials, so it pays to offer quality broadband, smart energy meters and connections for cable TV. ‘Kerb-to-couch’ technology is another aspect mentioned by Property Reporter, with keyless entry, app-controlled central heating and lighting operated by voice assistants, such as Alexa, all making life easier in later years.
Be receptive to modifications
Under the 2010 Equality Act, landlords are required by law to make any reasonable adjustments to their properties to allow tenants with disabilities to live safely and comfortably – including older tenants whose mobility has been affected by age. Landlords will need to consider future modifications, such as grab rails, ramps, wider door openings and applying for a priority parking bay.
Consider investing in ‘lock up and leave’ properties
Active retirees may be keen to travel, so renting an apartment in a block – ideally with a concierge and secure parking – will appeal to a wide audience. Security in general tends to be important to older renters, so secure front doors, window locks, porches – and video entry when it comes to flats – will find favour.
Highlight the low-maintenance aspect
One of the redeeming features of rental accommodation is the low maintenance aspect, which particularly interests retirees keen to put major DIY behind them. Properties in maintained blocks also have the advantage of a management company looking after communal gardens, common areas and structure elements, such as the roof.
Please ask us about marketing your property to the widest tenant audience. We’ll advise you on how best to improve your property before it is advertised as ‘to let’ possible, and we’ll manage the tenancy agreement negotiations for the best outcome