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Home Truths: security for older private renters

We're urging the Government to keep their promise and stop landlords being able to evict tenants without a reason. 

It’s the step millions of ordinary people in England need – and would give all renters the security they deserve as they get older. 

Home should be the place where we feel safest, the place we make our memories, and the place where we can grow old. 

But more than three quarters of a million people over 60 are locked out from having that – simply because they rent where they live from a private landlord. 

With fewer people able to own their own home, renting privately is often the only option. But the way the system works means renters are never on sure footing. That’s stressful and uncertain for anyone, but it’s even harder as you get older and need more stability.

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Why we need to act

Skyrocketing rents leave one in three older renters in poverty after the rent is paid. For someone just scraping by on a pension, that might mean missing meals or switching off the heating just to keep a roof over their head.

Many put up with damp, disrepair or other dangerous living conditions. For the two-fifths of older renters who already live in bad health, a cold home’s not just an inconvenience – it can kill. But they’re often too scared of what their landlord might do if they “cause a fuss”.

Sadly, these fears are justified. Landlords are allowed to evict older renters at short notice even when they’ve done nothing wrong. Those without family or friends to fall back on could find themselves homeless.

What needs to happen to help older renters?

The Government said they’d stop landlords being able to evict tenants without a reason by repealing Section 21, the part of the Housing Act that makes that possible. It’s the step millions of ordinary people in England need – and would give all renters the security they deserve as they get older.

Age UK has joined forces with other housing organisations to urge the Government to keep their promise and repeal Section 21 to offer older private renters long term security. Although this would mean the abolition of ‘no fault evictions’ landlords will still to be able to gain possession on legitimate grounds and tenants will still have the flexibility to move on if their circumstances change.

Read our report

Find out more about the situation facing older private renters and what we believe needs to be done to help them.

Ian's story

Ian, 69, from East Keswick used to be a home owner but for various reasons found himself having to rent privately. He was happy and settled until he received a Section 21 eviction notice.

“My flat had single glazing and no heating but I loved it there because I had good neighbours.I had been there three years when everyone in the block received a Section 21 notice to move out within weeks.

I had to reapply for my tenancy and I wasn’t given it because of my financial background. I was really panicked – I didn’t know where I would live. I was declaring an interest in all the houses the councils were offering but I was getting nowhere. I was very worried. Then on the day before I had to leave my flat I got a council house.

Ian is now in a secure social housing tenancy and describes the transformation to his life now the threat of eviction has been removed. “I am so relieved. I feel so much safer and I can decorate the house to make it my own. I’ve just done my garden. I feel more secure, more at home and more relaxed. I’m very happy where I am now.”

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Last updated: Dec 06 2023

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