As a landlord, you might not give much thought to retired renters, believing that they make up only a very small part of the market. New research by the National Landlords Association (NLA), however, has cast doubt on such assertions.
In fact, their findings show a massive upsurge in the number of retired private renters, growing by more than 200,000 in just four years.
The proportion of retirees living in private rented accommodation has gone up by 13% (roughly 220,000 renters) since 2012. The highest number of retired renters can be found in the South East, but London – for once – doesn't dominate.
Only 3% of retired renters count the capital as their home, the lowest proportion in the whole of England and Wales. Perhaps unsurprisingly older tenants prefer life away from the hustle and bustle and fast-paced nature of life in London, which generally appeals more to those from the younger generations.
When it comes to the private rented sector (PRS), the received wisdom is that it's mostly students, young professionals and families who make up a large part of the sector, but the NLA research clearly shows that there are a considerable number of people of retirement age who rent rather than own their own home.
Landlords, however, are failing to tap into the opportunities offered up by this demographic. While the number of retired renters has massively increased in the last four years, the number of landlords who let to retirees has nearly halved in the same time period. Back in 2012, there were 19% of landlords who said they let property to retired renters. That has now dropped to just 9%.
There are, of course, justifiable reasons for the hesitancy landlords have about letting property to older renters. On the one hand, landlords will appreciate the stability and assurances offered by older households. At the same time, though, landlords may be wary about renting out their homes to tenants that could be more vulnerable.
Nevertheless, people are living much longer – and staying in good health for much longer – so landlords may no longer need to be as wary about renting to older tenants as they once were.
Clearly the demand is there, so it does seem strange that landlords are not choosing to take advantage of this. There are some concerns that supply will fail to keep up with the increasing demand from retired renters, with more set to join the market in the coming years as the popularity of the PRS continues to grow.
Canny landlords can take advantage of this gap in the market, target their property towards older tenants and reap the subsequent rewards. There are risks attached, but that is the case with all demographics and there are certainly plenty of reasons why renting to retirees can be a positive thing.
All the indicators point to demand from this demographic growing – whether it's quite as high as the last four years remains to be seen, but there are no signs that it will recede dramatically – so landlords who take advantage of this could see considerable benefits as a result.