More than 40% of older renters expect to rent for the rest of their lives - report

Threshold and Alone report shows 42% of participants are highly stressed over the insecurity of their accommodation

More than 40 per cent of older renters expect to stay in rental accommodation for the rest of their lives, as they feel no other options are available to them, according to a research report by the housing charity Threshold and the charity representing older people, Alone.

The report, due to be published on Thursday, was drawn from interviews with representative older renters in the private rental sector, and an analysis of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) data set.

It found that 42 per cent of participants experience “high stress levels” associated with the insecurity of their accommodation. The substantial cost of renting in the private rental sector was referenced among participants, with more than half of interviewees in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

While this was essential to their capacity to afford accommodation, some experienced a shortfall in the HAP payment covering the cost of their rent. Some 17 per cent of interviewees noted landlord reluctance – and in some cases refusal – to accept HAP.


Carole York (72), who has been living in her rented home in Waterford since 2013, was “devastated” when she received notice three years ago that her landlord decided to sell the property. “We got along great and he encouraged me to set up my pony rescue on the property,” she said, explaining that she runs a small sanctuary for 12 ponies called Putting in the Magic at the property.

Ms York went to Threshold, which found the notice to be invalid, and she recently won her RTB case, permitting her to stay in her rented home. However, the past three years have “wreaked havoc with my health”, she said.

“Every time I looked at my phone and saw an email from the solicitor, my heart would just jump, thinking what now. It feels more secure now, but it’s always there in the background; it makes you feel very stressed and in the dark.”

Older renters are more likely to be living alone and renting for longer periods than their younger counterparts in the sector, the report said, and they are also more likely to be in receipt of rental assistance.

Those aged over 65 and renting from a private landlord are likely to be spending more than 35 per cent of their disposable income on rent (CSO 2021).

Exposures related to insecure accommodation were aggravated by other areas of concern, such as older age profiles, illness and health conditions, family composition and low income, the report said.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the research would “help inform our policies and target our housing actions further”. The Government’s Housing For All strategy “must include provision for age-friendly housing, both social and private”, he said.

“As people enter the so-called ‘golden years’ of their lives we don’t want them to suffer worry and stress if they are renting, we want them to have options. Rapidly increasing the supply of new homes, of all types, will provide those options.”

Seán Moynihan, chief executive of Alone, said: “We need to plan and build for this increasing amount of people, before it is too late, for whom renting is their only housing option.”

Threshold and Alone provided 12 recommendations to ensure the private rental sector becomes an appropriate housing option for older and ageing renters, including ensuring the adequacy of the State pension, increasing ring-fencing of social housing for older people, and ensuring higher compliance levels with accommodation standards in the private rental sector.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times