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Pathways to Renting Among Older Former Homeowners

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In the context of Aotearoa New Zealand, we explore the experiences of older renters who were former homeowners.

These renters’ trajectories reflect society’s shift to complex and risky housing pathways. The typical causes of loss of homeownership for those who had previously been homeowner included: divorce/separation, aging, and planned choice. Participants’ decision-making was also affected by their ties to birthplace, family base or whakapapa (genealogical connection). Very few of the participants in our study followed a deliberate plan to rent in order to decumulate their housing asset; instead, most had to sell and rent due to financial necessity. Their experiences suggest that, as the numbers of older renters grow, upward pressure on public housing, the Accommodation Supplement and income support payments is inevitable. Since, in general, older tenants lack assets with which to fund their own care, increased pressure will be exerted on public funding of residential care. Policy responses should address features of rental housing that enhance health, including condition and accessibility, warmth and tenants’ access to modifications and equipment to increase their safety and independence. Other suggestions are building age-friendly social housing, limiting exposure to mortgage debt, and consideration of intermediate tenures such as shared ownership for seniors with modest assets

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