Guest blog: Homing in on renters in later life

It’s often, wrongly, assumed that older people don’t face any of the same issues younger generations do when it comes to housing; and instead that all older people own mortgage free homes, immune from the problems seen in the rental market. This false assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

As we at Independent Age set out in our new report, “Homing in: how to improve the lives of older renters in Scotland, more and more older people are finding themselves in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). And as the number of older people living in the PRS has risen, so too has the number of older private renters living in poverty.

Overall, in Scotland, a total of 150,000 pensioners are in poverty. Over half of the older people in poverty rent their home and experience many of the same concerns as other age groups - rising rents and fear of homelessness, poor standards and a low awareness of housing rights. Our evidence shows Scotland’s rented sector isn’t delivering for older renters on a low income.



A staggering 39% of older private renters live in poverty in Scotland, with even more struggling to meet the cost of rising rents. Over one third (34%) of older private renters across the nation feel anxious about paying their rent and 3 in 10 (28%) have less than £200 disposable income per month after they pay rent. One older person who saw their rent rise £30 per month, told us:

“It’s a lot when you’re on a pension income and prices are rising.”

The Scottish Government can and must do more to help ease the burden of unaffordable rents. It’s time for a permanent system of rent controls, enabling rents in the PRS to be set at an affordable level for everyone, including older people on low incomes. Alongside this, access needs to be improved and funding increased for Discretionary Housing Payments, to support the rent shortfall in Housing Benefit faced by many older private renters living on low incomes.  And crucially, the UK Government must annually review and increase Local Housing Allowance to match rises in local rents.


Evictions and Homelessness

The number of older people experiencing homelessness in Scotland has increased - up by almost a quarter (23%) in the last annual statistics.[i] Despite the Scottish Government’s current temporary measures on evictions, Our new research shows half of older private renters live in fear of eviction and 17% are scared that their landlord will evict them in the next 12 months. On his experience of eviction in later life, one older man said:

“My landlady decided to sell her property, so I was given notice... it’s scary how much starting rents have increased.”

To address homelessness in Scotland, Independent Age support the recommendations put forward by the Scotland Prevention Review Group – including ensuring local authorities have a duty to help anyone threatened with homelessness in the next six months placing a statutory duty on HSCPs to identify the housing circumstances of patients and urge the Scottish Government to implement these in full.



Too many older people in Scotland live in homes with damp, draughts and mould. Despite 65% of older households living in a home which is in a state of disrepair, 12% of older renters told Independent Age that they’re frightened to raise issues with their landlord because they don’t want to be treated negatively. When asked about the repairs needed in their home, one older person said:

“My home is never warm; the heating system seems ineffective. There is a smell of damp in the winter months. There is a huge opening in the back wall where the boiler is located. The wind whistles into the flat. I’m living   in a property that has not been improved or renovated in over 20 years.”

To ensure older tenants can and are supported to challenge landlords on issues like poor maintenance, without fear of negative consequences, the Scottish Government should establish a housing ombudsman with the power to enforce repairs.


Housing rights

Our research identified a worryingly low awareness of housing rights among older renters, with just 30% saying they feel fully informed. Some older people told us that if they had more knowledge of their rights, they’d feel more confident raising concerns with landlords. Currently, not being aware of their housing rights, coupled with the fear of eviction, is preventing some older people from raising significant property issues with their landlords. One older man told us:

“I know if I complain to my landlord, it will get me nowhere but homeless.”

With the current private rent cap due to end in March, and the potential introduction of a new rent adjudication process – it’s never been more vital to ensure that older people are aware of what their rights are and how they can challenge unreasonable rent rises. We’re calling for the Scottish Government to make sure all renters are informed of their rights and that this information reaches older people in a targeted way.


Creating a better housing system is possible

People of all ages should have the option of living in affordable, safe and suitable housing. Getting housing right is vital if we are to address poverty in Scotland. The forthcoming Housing Bill is an opportunity the Scottish Government should seize as a step towards making this vision a reality for everyone in Scotland.

You can read Independent Age’s full report on older renters here. You can follow Independent Age on social media here.

To find out more about Independent Age visit Independent Age and sign up to campaign with us. To hear more about Independent Age’s policy and public affairs work in Scotland contact Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Louise Brady, at

If you're struggling with money worries, you can find information from Independent Age on our website or you can call our Helpline on 0800 319 6789.

[i] Supporting documents - Homelessness in Scotland: 2022-23 - (

Stay in the loop