Ageing in place as an older tenant: Independence and uncertainty

James, Bev

Abstract – Tuhinga Whakarāpopoto

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.

Articles associated with this research – Karere Tūhono

Media article: Pensioner in emergency housing says more support is needed
When: 25 September 2021
What: TVNZ 1 News broadcast and article
Figures from the last Census show severe housing deprivation among Kiwis aged 65+ rose more than in any other age group – a 24 per cent increase between 2013 and 2018. >> Read More.

Media article: Retirees and housing security
When: 1 September 2021
What: RNZ The Panel with David Cormack and Ali Jones
Listen from 11:15 for a radio interview with researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith on life for older renters and the impact.

Media article: Renting in retirement: Divorce, financial shocks and illness revealed in new research
When: 4 August 2021
What: NZ Herald article by reporter Ben Leahy
Reporter Ben Leahy discusses recent BBHTC research in a special edition of the New Zealand Population Review journal with researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith. >> Read More.

Keywords – Kupu Hāngai

Housing, aging, older people, older tenants, ageing in place, homeownership, independence and wellbeing

Fields of Research – Āpure Rangahau

Population Demographics; Age and aging; Housing security and mental health


Date – Te Wā Whakarewa



Type – Te Auaha

Research Bulletin

Citation – Kupu Hautoa

James, B. (2021). Ageing in place as an older tenant: Independence and uncertainty. Research Bulletin for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, Affordable Housing for Generations. August 2021, 5pgs. Wellington: BBHTC.