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The middle-aged tenant surge

Middle aged tenant report.jpg

Tenants living in the private rented sector are getting older and it is the middle-aged who are driving the change. Our new report, The middle-aged rental squeeze, examines trends in the sector, tenants’ ability to afford a home, attitudes to renting and how landlords feel about older tenants.

In the 10 years to 2021, the number of tenants in England aged between 45 to 64 increased by 70%, with those aged 65+ increasing by 38%. Government data shows there are 1.18 million households where the lead household representative is within the 45-64 bracket, compared to 691,000 in 2011.

Today, over a third of households (35%) in rented accommodation are aged over 45, compared to 27% 10 years ago. If you include those aged 35 or over, that increases to more than half of tenants, 56%, dispelling the myth that privately renting is predominantly for the young.

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The growth in the number of middle-aged renters has broad implications for the sector as this group ages. Although a high proportion of this group – nearly four in 10 – has a desire to move into home ownership, Paragon research of over 2,000 tenants shows only two in 10 in the 45-64 age group are actively saving for a deposit. Additionally, only one in ten has previously been a homeowner, suggesting this is a housing tenure for life for many of these households.

It is expected that a high proportion of those who are within this age bracket today will spend their lives in rented accommodation. With a higher incidence of single person households amongst tenants in later life, and a higher occurrence of benefits, the PRS will need to adapt.

Number of rented households by age bracket

Rented households by bracket

Source: DHLUC

The affordability gap

Four in ten people aged over 45 would like to buy their own home, but only 17% are actively saving to purchase a property, Paragon’s research shows. This suggests that a high proportion of those currently in rented accommodation will remain in the PRS for some time to come.

Breaking down this cohort further, 28% of those aged between 45 and 64 would like to buy but have no savings plans in place for a deposit, compared to 22% of over 65s, and 19% are actively saving.

Of the 19% actively saving to purchase a home, 25% have their finances in place and are searching, with 4% in the process of purchasing. The remainder (71%) are in the savings phase.

Less than a third of tenants (29%) aged between 45 and 64 have owned a property in the past, whilst 11% of tenants in this group actually own property in the UK (7%) or overseas (4%). This could suggest that they will ultimately live in those properties.

Younger renters have a higher propensity to save towards buying a home

A long-term home

As expected, tenants aged 45 or over have been renting for longer, lived in more properties and tend to stay longer in the same home than those younger. They are also more likely to live alone when compared to the younger cohort.

Over a fifth of those aged between 45 and 64 (22%) have lived in privately rented accommodation for more than 15 years, with a further 17% in the sector for between 11 and 15 years. Conversely, those under 45 typically have spent less time in rented homes, with nearly seven in 10 living in the sector for less than five years.

Just under a quarter of over 45s (23%) have lived in their current rental home for more than 10 years, with 22% living in the same home for between five and 10 years. This suggests that older tenants view their rental home as long-term accommodation.

Although one in five have lived in more than five rented properties, the majority (65%) have lived in three or fewer rental properties, which again suggests this is a cohort who prefers to develop deep roots and view their rental property as a long-term home rather than temporary accommodation.

Another trend the Paragon research identified is a higher occurrence of living alone amongst over 45s, with a third (32%) living on their own.

Consecutive years lived in rented accommodation

Attitudes towards renting

Views towards rented property and landlords are equally positive amongst those aged over 45 and those younger. Tenants aged 45+ are less worried that they will be asked to move – likely due to having longer, more established tenancies.

Overall, two thirds of tenants aged 45+ like renting or have no strong feelings about renting. Of the 34% who didn’t like renting, the biggest issue was the fact that they would prefer to own their own home (42%) rather than being due to any adverse relationship with a landlord or the property.

Nearly four in five (78%) tenants aged 45+ say they like the property they live in, with three quarters saying it feels like home. Meanwhile, 80% find it easy to contact their landlord and 76% have a positive relationship with their landlord.

What makes you happy about renting? Download report

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551