Sep 14, 2022

Older renters forced into aged care due to financial hardship

Older renters forced into aged care due to financial hardship

Older renters are being forced to move into accommodation that may be unsuitable, like residential aged care homes, due to financial challenges in the rental market.

A recent report from charity organisation Anglicare Australia is calling for more social housing and increased tenant rights to prevent older Australians from moving into aged care earlier than they need to. 

Anglicare Australia released the Ageing in Place report, which surveyed 500 older people about ageing at home, housing accessibility and housing affordability.

Despite almost 90% older renters stating they wish to age at home, increasing rents and a limited private rental market is making that difficult, said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

Anglicare revealed that 72% of older renters said cost was the biggest barrier to them ageing at home.

Limited options in the rental market has forced some to move into residential aged care homes when they don’t need to, facilities that are often already under pressure due to staffing shortages.

“Our case studies with renters all mentioned a real lack of hope that they could have a good ageing experience,” said Ms Chambers.

“However, the whole model of financing your ageing is predicated on having your own home, while our reliance on the private rental market in Australia makes things difficult for many groups of renters, especially those with limited finances.

Contributing factors to financial hardship include rising rents and an increasing cost of living, while those on the Age Pension are incredibly restricted to accommodation they are able to afford that may not be accessible, even with extra supplements on top of their pension.

Anglicare’s 2022: Rental Affordability Snapshot found that less than 1% of the available homes in the private rental market are affordable to people on the Age Pension.

“The Age Pension is adequate for a comfortable lifestyle if you don’t have to pay for your own accommodation,” explained Ms Chambers.

“These are issues we’re going to have to all face as we approach retirement. A third of Australians are in rentals and many of them have had late-in-life relationship breakdowns which mean they’re not coming in [to retirement] with a family home or nest egg.”

Some older renters are even having to move yearly, and Ms Chambers said this leads to a breakdown of community support.

“Having asked the question about where people want to age, and they are very clear about wanting to age at home, it’s then onto us as a country as to how we enable this to happen,” said Ms Chambers.

“But what we’re seeing is people needing to leave their private rental because of affordability or something as simple as a [lack of a] mobility aid, like a grab rail in the bathroom.

“People ageing in communities they are a part of is important. You have informal supports that replace more costly supports, you are part of support networks for others, and that makes for mental and social wellbeing.

Many older renters can also be priced out of dedicated housing options, such as retirement villages, as there is often a need to sell a property before you can invest.

Ms Chambers believes that alternative rental models, like social housing, can create housing security for older Australians facing financial hardship or who just cannot afford traditional retirement living.

Purpose-built social housing can also be designed for increased accessibility, which would benefit older people, while the influence of independent investors can ease a reliance on the private rental market.

“We’ve seen a decrease in social housing the last few decades with nothing new built, houses ageing out of social housing and public housing sold off,” explained Ms Chambers.

“We now have less social housing per capita than we did 20 years ago. We’re about 460,000 dwellings short in Australia. 

“One solution is encouraging more institutional investors so we don’t have a reliance on private rentals.”

Other options raised by Ms Chambers include Government or not-for-profit managed long-term lease programs, increased rent assistance, and more links between aged care and social services supports.

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  1. I am sure there are many homes out there that have cottages on their property, or even part of their home that is just sitting, not being used. How about renting them out, at an amount that is affordable? That way, it is a win-win situation! The elderly renter has a place to call home and the owner of the property has a reliable person who if they should go on holiday the renter could look after your pet/s, maybe even get stuck into your garden.
    I think we must all remember that we are all going to be getting old…and then ask ourselves, how would we want to be treated.

  2. There would obviously be a lot of retirees who are healthy enough to maybe consider House Sitting. My family had a lovely mother and daughter come and stay at our home for a week to feed our 2x dogs and cat while we were away. It cost nothing from both parties and was a free holiday for our sitters. They had a system where they were able to arrange their next house sitting before leaving our home. If there was a gap in timing they would stay in a motel overnight or drive to the next state for house sitting sometimes up to 3 months in very often affluent homes across SEQ or interstate. They even brought their own bed linen,pillows and cookware! So all my new bed linen was not used. I highly recommend those who can and are homeless read up on what the conditions are. You will be interviewed by the home owners and should get a great wrap or recommendation on your house sitting on one of the sites online for other prospective clients to There is a small fee to join this group of home sitters but a lot of people do it for the experiences of moving around and seeing other parts of the country.They sent pictures of our dogs in parks and on the beach then they had our pool to chill out in afterwards. Cost us nothing and when we arrived they were gone and our home was just as clean as I left it. Looked like nobody had ever been there. The mother was divorced and lost everything and her daughter worked on-line in her profession. We put all our important documents in the main bedroom and locked the door. We couldn’t’ve been more impressed.

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