An increasing number of older people are recognising the benefits of renting in retirement says PETER GIRLING, Chairman, Girlings Retirement Rentals

Often people in their early 60s think about downsizing, especially if their children have flown the nest and they are living in a house that is too big for them. Many automatically think that buying a smaller property, such as a retirement apartment, is their only option in later life.

However there are other opportunities, such as renting, and we are talking to an increasing number of older people who are recognising the many benefits of renting in retirement.

Your Move’s sister company, LSL Corporate Client Department Ltd has called this trend the ‘rise of the silver renter’[i]. They recently conducted research and found almost one in five people aged over 55 are renting, with almost half (46 per cent) saying they were happy to do so. This compares with only a quarter of 18-25 year olds who said they were satisfied renting.

Traditionally the aspiration from early adulthood is to own your home and renting has often been seen as second best.

However, retirement housing has changed dramatically over the years and continues to adapt to the next generation’s needs and aspirations. It’s expected many more retired people will downsize from their family home and rent in the future.

One couple who have taken the plunge and are renting in a retirement development is John and Pamela Gray, both in their 80s.

They moved from their family home in Surrey to renting a two bedroom apartment in Surbiton with Girlings, just over a year ago and haven’t looked back.

Part of the reason they wanted to move was to be nearer to their daughter and grandchildren in Richmond, plus the couple no longer wanted the hassle of maintaining a property. They also didn’t want to leave their family with a home to sell when they died. Renting seemed like the perfect solution.

Commenting on the move, John said, “The apartment is ideal for us, it is warm and the other residents are friendly and it feels very safe. We don’t have a garden to worry about and the location is very convenient, the buses go from right outside the door and there is a variety of great shops in the village including supermarkets.”

An added bonus has been the lovely retirement community. There is a residents’ lounge which is usually buzzing with other people to chat to and regular social activities to enjoy including quizzes, coffee mornings and film nights which the couple love attending.

John adds, “There is a lot going on here socially and we really enjoy living here. As well as the social life, we like the reassurance of having a development manager on-site, and although we haven’t had to use it we have peace of mind that our apartment has the 24 hour CareLine in case of any emergency.”

If, like John and Pamela you think renting in retirement might suit you here are a few of the myths often associated with renting, many of which you may be surprised to learn just aren’t true.

A retirement development is only for retirees

In most retirement developments there is a minimum age limit for occupation.

The majority of retirement developments accept those aged 60 and over, with some available to those aged over 55.  However you don’t necessarily need to be retired.

We have tenants who are still working, either on a full-time or part-time basis, or choosing to keep active through volunteering.

Many of our tenants decided to take advantage of market conditions and downsize early, releasing capital in their home ready for their retirement.

Rental agreements are always short term

For older people security of tenure is important. Often people equate renting with having to move frequently, every time their landlord wants their property back. Whilst in the private rented sector most tenancy agreements tend to be assured shorthold tenancies, which make this more likely, the majority of ours are offered with assured tenancies.

This means people can remain in the property for life, giving them complete peace of mind. For most of our tenants this is a major factor in them opting to rent, as, just like owning a house, they can stay in their home for as long as they want.

Pets are not allowed

Pets are important to many people and they can often be put off renting in a retirement development as they don’t think they will be allowed to bring their pets. Whilst rules vary from development to development, many will allow pets with the necessary permissions.

Retirement developments are glorified care homes

Some people believe that living in a retirement development is akin to living in a care home, and that they are too young to move to one. This is a common misperception. There are a real mixture of ages in retirement developments, including couples and single people, from a wide variety of backgrounds from all over the country.

The apartments are just like any other that could be rented, except those in a specialist retirement development will have been designed with older people in mind. They have services that people may need when they get older, such as a 24 emergency call system installed in each apartment in case of emergencies, plus there is usually a manager available during week days to ensure the smooth running of the development.

The location of the development will also have been chosen with older people in mind to be close to shops, transport and other amenities, such as restaurants, theatres and doctors surgeries. They also tend to be in locations that people favour as they get older such as coastal resort towns.

Residents have to ‘join in’

Older people often say they don’t want to live in a ‘community’ and be forced to join in residents events, however, it’s entirely up to each individual how involved they become in community life. For some, having a good social life is a real bonus, especially if they live alone. We have certainly seen this over the years.

Renting can be expensive

Finally, many people think renting can be expensive as they will have to pay service charges and property maintenance on top of their rent, which could make it unaffordable.

We believe in keeping things simple and include these in the rental cost which helps people to better manage their finances, something which is important when you are on a set income. In fact renting in later life can often help people with financial planning for their future, which could be of benefit to both them and their family.

To find out more about renting in retirement visit  Girlings Retirement Rentals

[i] Rise of the silver renter