Half a million older people in private rented accommodation are overlooked by policy on housing and older people, according to a new report.
Despite older private renters being more likely to report cold and damp in their homes, a new report from charity Independent Age found that almost one third of older private renters felt their accommodation wasn’t suitable for their needs.
The report found that twice as many private renters aged 65 and over said they have cold and damp in their homes, compared with older homeowners or social renters.
Independent Age chief executive Janet Morrison said: ‘Life as an older person in private rented accommodation can be unstable and financially insecure, yet they are often invisible in thinking about housing.’
Reporting problems with rented accommodation
Older private renters were more likely to have paid for adaptations to their home themselves, with almost two in five having done this, according to the report.
Just one in 12 said their landlord paid for adaptations, compared with one third of social renters.
As a private tenant, you’ll usually be responsible for minor repairs to your rented accommodation that are caused by fair wear and tear.
But if there are more serious issues to your home resulting from disrepair or damp, you should contact your landlord to report repairs.
It’s the responsibility of the landlord to ensure repairs are carried out on the property, but disputes can occur.
For this reason, try to keep the complaint and conversation around it in writing over email or letter.
While the landlord must repair the property, the landlord is not obliged to carry out improvements.
For example, if your property has rotting window frames, then this is something the landlord should put right. The landlord is under no obligation to install double glazing, though, as that would clearly be seen as an improvement to the property.
Claiming compensation for disrepair in private rented accommodation
If your personal property is damaged due to the disrepair, you can claim compensation. If you need to claim compensation later on, it could be important to show that your landlord was aware of the disrepair, so it’s always a good idea to get the complaint in writing.
To back up your claim, take photographs of the damage and keep receipts for anything you’ve had to replace.
Disrepair causing ill health?
If the disrepair is causing you ill health, then you could ask the council’s environmental health department to inspect your home. You’ll need evidence to back up your claim.
If the disrepair is serious enough, the council will serve your landlord with a legal notice to carry out the repairs.
Remember, your landlord is obliged to keep your property maintained to a certain standard, so if your rented property is in disrepair, use our free Which? template letter to report repairs to be carried out by your landlord or letting agent.
The new report, titled ‘Unsuitable, insecure and substandard homes: The barriers faced by older private renters’ from charity Independent Age, highlights challenges facing older renters in England.