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Rental housing for the older age group

Private landlords will be encouraged to consider those in the 65+ age group to be a significant tenant group as the New Zealand population continues to age over the next few decades and home ownership trends change.

Home ownership across all age groups has dropped according the 2013 Census figures published in March 2015. The largest falls were for those in the 30s and 40s.  This raises concerns that as time goes on, and especially in 20-30 years, there will be an increasing number of 60+ people who do not own their own homes. 

 A CHRANZ report, Older peoples’ housing futures 2050, demonstrates how this is forecast to change (1). In the 1960s 8 percent of New Zealand’s population was aged 65 years and over but by 2050 that group will make up 23 percent of the population. Only the Auckland region is projected to have a median age of under 40 years in 2026.  All other regions are projected to have an increase in absolute numbers of older people in their districts.  Link this trend with the trend that, in the future, New Zealand’s older owner occupiers will no longer be largely debt free and able to afford to own their homes,  and the conclusion is likely to be a significant increase of older people in rental dwellings

Robyn Scott, chief executive of Age Concern, was quoted in the NZ Herald in April as saying that much of what is being projected is new because people are living longer and the numbers of people 65+ will be larger in the future.(2)

In the same NZ Herald article, Ms Barry, Senior Citizens Minister, said the Government is looking closely at increasing affordable housing for seniors and special housing areas would help provide more affordable housing generally.  She said that work would also be done with local authorities on affordable housing for the elderly.

However, over recent months, there have been other media reports of local authorities reducing their portfolios of pensioner housing. In April, Whanganui Mayor Annette Main was reported as saying councils had been getting a clear message from central government to stick to core services. (3)

“I don’t believe councils are the right agency to delivery community housing,” she said.

A report by Office for Senior Citizens in 2013 said that at that time 20% of Housing NZ tenants were aged 65 and over and 11,000 units were managed by local councils (4).  Between 1996 and 2006 there was a rise of nearly 30% in older renter households in private sector rentals and state houses (6) and this trend has been continuing. As reported local councils are moving to reduce their property portfolios and the Government is planning to sell numbers of state houses to community providers.  Overall the current providers are not going to be able to keep up with the demand as the falling levels of home ownership affect the housing choices of an increasing number of older people.   

In future an increased level of specially designed private rental stock will be needed to meet the needs of the larger number of people over 65.   By 2031 it is estimated one person households will account for approximately 30 percent of all households and 80 percent of the growth of these households will be among people aged 55 or more.  Consequently one bedroom homes will be in demand. Security of tenure will be a key requirement as older people do not usually like to move house as much as other age groups.  Ease of accessibility and location of rental units close to amenities will be important.  Older tenants may need modifications to their homes as their physical abilities deteriorate.  However, even considering all these requirements, private landlords may well prefer older tenants and decide to increase their portfolios by acquiring rental property which is appropriately designed and located. Increasing demand for such property will make this a sound business decision.


  1. CHRANZ report here

  4. MSD Office for Senior Citizens report – Healthy, independent, connected, respected
  5. Nana, G., Stokes, F., Keeling, S., Davey, J., and K. Glasgow, (2009) Trends,Projections, Issues and Challenges: Older Renters 1996 to 2051, Report to the Department of Building and Housing. Wellington: BERL.

  6. Later life in rental housing – current New Zealand issues.  Sally Keeling. Policy Quarterly – Volume 10 Issue 3 – August 2014




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