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Quarter of over-65s still pay rent or mortgage

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

Housing costs take a huge bite out of some older people’s income, according to new government figures

A quarter of older households are still having to pay either a mortgage or rent after the age of 65, according to the latest Engilsh Housing Survey, published by The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

While the majority of older households own their home outright, a significant minority still have either rent or mortgage payments.

The figures showed that older households typically pay a large chunk of their income of housing costs in later life.

For example:

  • In 2020-21, social renters aged 65 and over paid, on average, 27% of their household income on their rent when housing support was included, and 34% when it was excluded
  • Older private renting households spent 38% of their household income on rent when housing support was included, and 48% when it was excluded
  • Older mortgagors paid, on average, 31% of their household income on their mortgage.

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the data: “The days of retiring mortgage-free are over for many with a quarter of older households still having to pay either a mortgage or rent post the age of 65. Such costs can be sizeable and can add a huge extra chunk to any money you need to put away for your retirement, especially for those who continue to rent.

“Pensioners facing a shortfall in retirement income often talk about downsizing to a smaller property as a way of freeing up some extra cash but, while it may seem a good idea a few years down the line, when it comes to it many older people cannot bear the thought of leaving a home they may have brought up family in or have a close friendship network nearby.

“This reluctance can be shown in that less than one in 10 older households had moved home in the past three years, and only 3% planned to move home within the next six months.”

Cost of living crisis

The issue could become more acute as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite and food and energy bills rise, warned Morrissey.

“Older households tend to spend a larger proportion of their income on these items so are particularly badly affected”, she explained.

“As energy bills in particular soar older households may struggle with around half of their homes having an energy efficiency rating of D or below and with almost one fifth of older households saying they have no savings they face a very difficult few months ahead.”