Retirees paying rent are a new phenomenon, TDs and senators said

Retirees are among the “wealthier cohorts” because they own their own homes and don’t have mortgages, TDs and senators have been told.

Around 84 percent of older people own their own home without a mortgage, and this age group uses their pension to pay rent, a “relatively new phenomenon,” according to a senior Housing Department official.

Yesterday, Labor Senator Rebecca Moynihan raised concerns about the “elderly rent crisis” in the Oireachtas Housing Committee.

“About 84 percent of older people own their own homes, we actually have a very high percentage of home ownership in the country. It’s a relatively new phenomenon for older people to rent,” said Caroline Timmons, a senior housing ministry official.

“A very high percentage of that population would actually be homeowners even without a mortgage, so they’re probably one of the more affluent cohorts,” she said.

“But there will be a smaller percentage that we would see on the council housing waitlist and we are looking at that. They still make up a very small percentage of the overall list.”

Figures from the National Statistics Office show that people over 65 have above-average net worth.

Ms Timmons said a new government program to build 5,000 homes, giving developers up to €120,000 per home, will increase housing supply for older people looking to downsize.

She said the only “financial situation” that makes sense for developers is to build rental housing because the cost of construction is so high.

The new Crói Cónaithe (Cities) program aims to build housing by closing the profitability gap that otherwise would not be built.

“It’s high on our agenda right now,” she said.

The committee was also told that half of the elderly have “some problem” with housing.

“We know from Age Action Ireland that around 31 per cent of older adults report moderate to major housing problems,” said Fiona Larthwell, who oversees the service for older people in the Department of Health’s planning unit.

“I think it’s about half of people over 50 [who] have some problem with their home, and nearly 10 percent have critical difficulties keeping the house warm.”

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Ghould said he was contacted by voters saying they are ineligible for the fail deal as they
took out equity loans for their properties.

However, officials said they were unaware of this issue and that it was being addressed in their own departments.

Alone Chief Executive Seán Moynihan told the committee it needed “safeguards and incentives” to allow older people to do so
downsize: “Demand from older people is currently almost 60,000 apartments.”

The charity also called for the provision of more expensive rental housing on a “larger scale” to cater to older tenants.

“By 2031, around 20 percent of households will be over 65 years old,” it said. “This, coupled with declining homeownership rates, means we need to increase the focus and range of housing options and choices for older people.

“Our current model of housing delivery that we rely on, the private sector rental model, will not fully serve the community or the needs of older people.” Retirees paying rent are a new phenomenon, TDs and senators said

Fry Electronics Team

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