In the last year retirees accounted for £1 in every £14 – 7.3% – in rent paid by tenants

Retired people are spending a record £3.7bn on rent, three times more than a decade ago, new research has found.

In the last year retirees accounted for £1 in every £14 – 7.3% – in rent paid by tenants, according the latest Countrywide Monthly Letting Index, which showed the total amount of rent paid by private tenants in the UK in the last 12 months as being £50.6bn. Last year pensioners paid an average of £810 a month, up 0.3% on last year and 19% since 2007. 

Despite this, the average retiree paid 12% less than the typical tenant, because they were more likely to rent a smaller home. Three-quarters (75%) chose to rent a one or two bedroom home compared with two-thirds (66%) of all tenants. Retirees also make up a greater proportion of tenants in the places where rents are lowest.

Retired people now accounted for 8% of all tenants, compared with 5.2% in 2007. The largest proportion was in Wales, where nearly one in 5 (18%) of tenants are retired. The South West (13.0%) and the North East (10.1) had the second and third largest proportion of retired tenants respectively. London had the fewest tenants who were retired: 3.5%.

The research showed that in May rental growth showed no signs of picking up, with the cost of renting a home just 0.1% higher than it was in May 2016.  Rents in the capital fell for the seventh consecutive month although at a slower rate than in April (-1.5% compared to -3.4%).  The South East, Northern England, Scotland and Wales all saw rents fall, leaving them lower than at the same time last year.

Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide, said: “The rental market can no longer be typified by the image of carefree, young professionals. More than half of tenants are over 30 and the number of pensioners renting has reached record levels. 

“And with younger generations growing up much less likely to be homeowners, tenants are getting older with an ever more diverse group of people calling the rented sector home.”

Morris said that seven consecutive months of falling rents in the capital were starting to show signs of rippling out across the country, with rents down in over half of regions outside London. “The number of homes on the market remains well up on last years’ levels, softening rental growth,” he added.