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Generation Rent, the Over-60s and the Growth of Later-Living

16 January 2020 Sabah Ismail Read time: 3 min
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Sabah Ismail

It’s no secret that the private rental sector is booming here in the UK. Between 2007 and 2017, the sector saw a huge 63% growth, rising from 2.8 million households to a whopping 4.5 million.

A large percentage of those in privately rented homes in 2017 were those in the 25-34 year old age group, making up 35% of the total. However, it has also been stated that households are getting older overall, with homes for those in the 45-54 age range increasing from 11% to 16%, while homes for those aged 16-24 dropped from 17% to 12%.


Furthermore,  it has been reported that the number of over 60s renting privately grew massively between 2007 to 2017 too, rising from 254,000 in 2007 to over 414,000 in 2017. As we enter 2020, the number of older people joining Generation Rent is only set to grow even bigger, with over one-third of people over the age of 60 predicted to be renting privately by 2040.


But why the rise in over-60s choosing to rent?

Not only did 200,000 older adults between 2007 and 2017 join the private rental market, but also interestingly, a growing number of older homeowners are choosing to sell up and rent in retirement.

The reasons for this could be many, but we’ve whittled the main reasons down to the following:

  • Many are choosing to downsize from their large family homes to properties that are more manageable and enjoyable now that they are reaching a later stage in life
  • Some may want to free up assets to help younger members of their family get on to the housing ladder
  • Others may want to move closer to family, or to a more desirable area

68-year-old Patsy Baker, who moved to a rental home alongside her husband - newscaster, Sir Martyn Lewis - after selling their property a few years ago, said of the benefits of renting in later life,

“We have no mobility in this country as we are stuck in homes we own – you can’t sell, can’t move, can’t downsize, can’t free up larger properties. If you had a real affordable rental sector it would give huge mobility.

“All your options open up very quickly when you rent. The sense of freedom is fantastic. 

“If something goes wrong we just ring the owner and he arranges for a builder or an electrician to come around and fix the problem. We don’t pay for that; he has also insured the house, so there are savings in renting.” 

Purpose-built homes for the older population

It has been said that private landlords, local authorities and housing associations need to do more to ensure housing is suitable for older people, especially as more and more people are choosing to rent in later life. 

The flourishing Build-to-Rent sector is being heralded as the answer to the UKs housing crisis, with a massive 20% growth year on year. Currently, there are 148,000 Build-to-Rent homes completed, in planning, or in construction across the UK, offering purpose-built accommodation to those who desire more freedom, flexibility and a higher quality of living.  Who’s to say that this sector couldn’t also provide solutions for housing the growing population of over-60s as well?

With over-60s set to grow to 26% of the population by 2038, alongside traditional retirement living, Build-to-Rent could help to diversify the range of high-quality homes for this growing demographic. 

The Later-Living Solution

Although traditionally associated with young professionals demanding city-centre living, amenities nearby and bills included, adapted Build-to-Rent homes could serve the older generation in those same respects very well, too.

Later-Living Build-to-Rent homes could provide the same high-quality accommodation while affording residents greater financial freedom, flexibility and peace of mind.

Like traditional Build-to-Rent, Later-Living homes could be placed in urban locations, as opposed to standard retirement homes which are usually in more rural areas. This would ensure that residents are located close to public transport links and local amenities, making it easy for them to get around.

Secondly, building community is also another key element of Build-to-Rent developments, especially seen with Co-living homes on the rise. This community aspect of Build-to-Rent homes could be a huge plus to the older community, helping to curtail the problems of loneliness and isolation, and generally just making life easier, and more fun; ensuring that they always feel part of a community, no matter what happens in life.

Additionally, on-site management services as seen in traditional Build-to-Rent developments could offer more flexibility in the roles of both management and care - there would always be someone around, if a resident was in need. 

The benefits of Build-to-Rent homes for Later-Living are massive, and definitely offer solutions for our ageing population.


As more over-60s choose to rent in later life, Build-to-Rent homes for the older generation are a step towards offering new choices in the market - something that is severely lacking, currently.

We look forward to seeing how the sector expands and evolves over the coming years, and who knows? Maybe Build-to-Rent will soon be changing its name to Build-to-Retire😉. We’ll just have to wait and see. 

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