Each year COTA Victoria conducts a survey asking older people what issues concern them the most. In 2016 – 44.25% of respondents (the majority) said that access to affordable, secure and appropriate housing was the most important issue for older people. And the facts say it all:
The fastest growing group in the rental housing market are those aged over 55 years of age. If you don’t own a home at 50 you are unlikely to ever move into home ownership. In Australia 336,174 people over the age of 55 rent privately (2011 Australian Census),
There has been a 30% increase in the number of older people in the private rental market since the 2006 Australian Census.
And it is worse in Victoria where there has been a 44% increase in older people renting between 2006 and 2011. The numbers of Older Victorians in the private rental market have increased from 52 309 to 75 470. This number is rising with rising numbers of older people homeless, in particular older women.
We know that private rentals in Australia are mostly insecure, unaffordable, unsafe and unadaptable for older people
What are the specific Housing Issues for Older People?
- Affordability – An average aged pensioner pays 63% plus of their income in rent for a one-bedroom flat in Melbourne
- There is a lack of ‘age-friendly’ rentals. We know the evidence of landlords not allowing modifications to homes to allow for changing mobility and other needs. Or the unreasonable request to remove all modifications when they are asked to leave or their lease is terminated.
- Lack of long term leases cause incredible insecurity. The trauma of moving for an older person is not understood by many. Lack of security stops people from exercising their rights as they fear repercussions.
- Older, frailer Victorians need the support of organisations such as Housing for the Aged Action Group to help find affordable secure and appropriate accommodation – so they don’t end up in hospital, on the street and in care.
There are limited housing options to support older people ageing in place in Victoria. The rental market is not accessible to many older
people and current restrictions in modifying homes further exacerbates a limited supply of appropriate housing.
The provision of affordable, secure and appropriate senior housing is vital for all of us as we age.
The Tenants Union of Victoria founded the Make Renting Fair Campaign to make renting fair for everyone and to prevent it becoming an option of last resort for people on low and middle incomes.
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