A shocking new report from Age UK paints a stark picture of the challenges faced by older people living in the private rented sector, with many forced to live in ‘appalling conditions’ due to ‘disinterested landlords and negligent letting agents’.
In a new report published today – ‘Ageing in squalor and distress’ – Age UK reveals the sometimes shocking and harrowing experiences of older tenants who have called the charity’s telephone advice line, as they battle to overcome problems with privately rented accommodation.
The charity heard from older people and their families who were left to live in damp and mold-infested properties, often causing or worsening chronic illnesses.
Other callers reported failures to carry out essential repairs, such as heating and cookers, or landlords refusing to allow the installation of crucial aids and adaptations older people need.
And when repairs were completed, some private landlords reportedly hiked the amount they charged in rent.
Some older tenants even claimed they had been bullied and harassed into leaving their home, because their landlord wanted to sell-up.
Only one in ten of all those living in the private rented sector are currently over 65, but this is expected to rise significantly in future years.
Around 200,000 older people have joined the rental market in the last four years alone, and estimates suggest that a third of over-60s could be living in private rented accommodation by 2040.
Age UK is calling for more resources for local environmental health services, better access to aids and adaptations for older people, and much-needed improvements to local housing advice.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director and lead spokesperson, said: “Calls to our advice line show that some highly vulnerable older people are enduring grim living conditions in the private rented sector and this is truly shocking.
“No one should have to put up with such squalor at any age, but the idea that a chronically ill older person could be living on their own for weeks or even months with no proper heating, or cooking facilities or hot water is sickening.
“The law is far too feeble and the withering away of local environmental health services is making the problem worse.
“As it is, the bottom end of the private rented sector is no place for a vulnerable older person, but if that is what we believe as a society we need to do something about it and create better alternatives.
“Our first and immediate priority though should be to improve the appalling plight of older tenants like those described in our report.”
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