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Renting in Retirement

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Since selling their five-bedroom house in ­London’s Belgravia two years ago, former newscaster Sir Martyn Lewis and his wife, Patsy Baker, have been living in a rental property a few streets away. Home is now a more ­manageable three-bedroom, four-floor townhouse with a courtyard garden.

The couple didn’t need all that space so downsized, says Sir Martyn, a ­former newsreader best known for his announcement of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, on the BBC. Since selling up, there has been a 15 to 20 per cent drop in London prices. “It was a terrific decision for us,” he says. “With the reduction in prices we can cover the rent for quite a while and wait before buying our next home.”

They are two of a growing number of people aged over 60 in the UK who are choosing to rent, ­according to ­research by the Centre for ­Ageing Better, which reports that 414,000 older people are ­privately renting, up from 254,000 in 2007. It estimates that by 2040 a third of people aged over 60 could be living in private rented accommodation.

Both Sir Martyn, 73, and Patsy, 67, still work full time and they ­recently established a company together called Your Big Day TV, which produces birthday and anniversary videos using news archives. Renting has not only freed them up to focus on their business but given them a sense of empowerment.

"Suddenly we have freedom and ­options,” says Patsy, who pioneered a form of private rented affordable housing back in the Nineties by helping to create Real Estate ­Investment Trusts. “We have no mobility in this country as we are stuck in homes we own – you can’t sell, can’t move, can’t downsize, can’t free up larger properties. If you had a real affordable rental sector it would give huge mobility,” she adds. “All your options open up very quickly when you rent. The sense of freedom is fantastic. If something goes wrong we just ring the owner and he arranges for a builder or an electrician to come around and fix the problem. We don’t pay for that; he has also insured the house, so there are savings in renting.” 

For many retired people, such as Keith and Teresa Davy, renting means being able to live in an area where they couldn't afford to buy. The Davys live in a retirement apartment in Bournemouth run by Girlings. The company lets out homes on assured tenancies, enabling people like the Davys to remain in the properties for life, rather than the usual assured shorthold tenancy in the open market. 

“We couldn’t afford to buy the flat we’re living in, so renting has enabled us to live in an area we really like,” says Keith, 77. They pay £775 a month for their one-bedroom home, including service charges. The couple previously owned a retirement flat in Torquay, which they sold for just £55,000, so a move to Bournemouth, where modest one-­bedroom apartments can cost £150,000, would have been impossible had they not found somewhere to rent. Becoming tenants has also allowed them to free up their capital and do what they love best – travel. Since their move to Dorset a year ago, they have been abroad four times and are looking forward to another holiday in Majorca.

If you are thinking of selling for downsizing or are considering renting as an alternative to home ownership why not give us a call? Our team of property professionals would be only too happy to help and give you as much information to need to help you make your decision. 


Article taken in part by Jane Slade

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