You're never too old to share
In the past 12 months, the number of homeowners over the age of 65 who have advertised for a lodger on Spareroom.co.uk has increased by more than two-thirds, whilst the number of live-in landlords in the 55-64 age bracket has almost doubled. With the Conservatives reporting that the number of pensioner bankrupts has risen by almost 550% since 2000 it’s clear that more and more older people are turning to lodgers as a vital means of financial support.
For many older people their homes are the only substantial asset they own, and most would prefer to pass their homes on to children rather than be forced to sell them to finance either going into care or simply affording to stay at home. For many over 65s another benefit of having a lodger can be the companionship of having someone else around the house. For people who grew up in the middle of the 20th century taking in a lodger isn’t such a strange concept – many will have had a relative who rented out rooms or will have lived with a landlord or landlady themselves. The post-war rise in people’s need for personal independence led to more self-contained living and the current housing market which features higher single occupancy levels.
The government’s Rent a Room Scheme, which allows people to earn up to £4,250 a year by taking in a lodger before needing to declare the income or pay tax, has undoubtedly helped. However, as the limit has been set at £4,250 since 1997-98 and rents have risen substantially in that time, a higher threshold would encourage more people to take advantage of the scheme.
BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours will be featuring the rise in older live-in landlords on the show on Wednesday September 9th.