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Ageing in Place as an Older Tenant: Independence and Uncertainty

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More people in mid-life and older are renting in New Zealand. This is a significant change.

We asked 108 older tenants about their experiences of ‘ageing in place’ in rentals in five areas: Waiheke Island, Marlborough District, Western Bay of Plenty District, Tauranga City and the Hawke’s Bay – areas with an older population profile, increasing proportions of older tenants and unaffordable rents. Participants’ ages ranged from the mid-50s to 89 years. Their self-identified ethnicity was Māori (50%), NZ European (44%), and other ethnic backgrounds (6%). Almost three-quarters of participants lived in private rentals while the rest lived in housing provided by not-for-profit organisations, councils, or Kāinga Ora. Key themes emerging from the research were: the loss of homeownership; tenure insecurity and homelessness; unaffordable rents; and poor dwelling condition. Our research shows the need for policy responses that halt the decline in homeownership, which is a protective factor against instability in later life. Policy should also ensure that the rental system becomes more age-friendly, by increasing the supply of affordable, secure rentals that support seniors’ independence and wellbeing. Finally, policy should embed services and supports for seniors across housing, income support, primary health services, and home-based care.

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