Easy ways to accommodate the needs of senior citizens in your rental property
The best landlords know how to offer an outstanding service to all tenants, regardless of their age or circumstances. With the number of older tenants renting homes on the rise, landlords should keep up to date with local laws regarding housing for elderly and disabled tenants as well as make allowances for older tenants who may need a little extra help.
If you’re a landlord with older tenants, check out ConnectAbility Australia’s helpful guide full of essential tips to help older tenants renting your property.
1. Do not discriminate against elderly tenants
Older people can be amazing tenants. They tend to be responsible with payments, have minimum noise complaints, are statistically less likely to engage in criminal activities and have reliable incomes.
As with any tenant, landlords must be attentive to tenants’ rights by not discriminating against age or any other factor. Anti-discrimination laws will protect your tenants’ rights if they are unlawfully evicted and also ensure your housing is suitable for habitation.
2. Adapt your property for the needs of older tenants
By 2050, around one in every four Australians will be aged 65 years and over, so it is becoming increasingly important that more rental homes are made suitable for older tenants with access needs. Despite making up such a large number of the population, older Australian renters in the private sector are the most likely age group to experience a lack of suitable accommodation options.
By making some modifications to your rental property, you could open your house up to a wider range of potential renters. These small changes ensure that tenants with special requirements can move around safely and complete everyday tasks while living in your rental property.
Access ramps are needed by the elderly and many people with disabilities to make their residence accessible and to get to where they need to go. If you offer accessible housing and your tenant requires a ramp, then it is an asset to your property to have one installed.
From bathrooms to staircases, a handrail could help prevent your older tenants from falling and offer them support and stability while navigating the stairs, walking down a hallway or using the bathroom. When installed in your property, handrails decrease the rate of falls and trips, leading to a safer living environment for your older tenants.
Having wider doorways can provide many different benefits for older tenants with mobility and health issues. Most importantly, wider doorways offer improved mobility throughout the home, make it easier to move medical appliances and make it less likely for tenants to injure themselves on the doorframe.
Raised toilet seat
As people age, weakened muscles in the legs make it more difficult to sit down and stand up so they are more prone to lose their balance. A raised toilet seat decreases the distance your older tenants have to sit when using the toilet and is very easy to install on your existing toilet.
Install non-slip flooring in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas that are likely to become a slipping hazard when wet. Cushiony flooring materials such as carpet is ideal for other rooms and provides some protection if a fall were to occur, while linoleum is great for wheelchairs and walker mobility.
A standard shower seat is a basic home adaption for tenants who have a difficult time standing for long periods. Shower seats will make showering safer and more comfortable for older tenants to take care of their hygiene needs.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and plays a central role in the day-to-day life of older tenants. By making some small changes to the cooking and storage areas, you can greatly improve the independence of your elderly tenants. Some modifications could include better lighting, easy-to-grab handles and accessible storage cupboards.
3. Take a more in-person approach
Younger renters feel comfortable with technology such as texting and cash apps but not all of your older tenants will be familiar with smart devices and online banking.
While your younger tenants might be able to pay the rent through an app on their phone, much of the time older tenants prefer more traditional ways of paying their rent, such as paying directly in cash or completing a bank transfer at their local branch.
To make sure there is no confusion on rent day, you should speak with your tenant about how payments will be made and find out their preferred method of communication before signing the rental agreement for your property.
4. Consider keeping your property pet-friendly
There are some allowances you might need to make when renting to older tenants with disabilities. One such example is allowing assistance animals such as a guide dog or therapy animal when you don’t normally allow pets in your rental property.
In addition to assistance animals, many older tenants like to keep pets as companions. If your rental property usually has a no-pet policy, you should consider making allowances for older tenants who wish to rent with their dog, cat, bird or other animals so your tenants can feel at home.
5. Be compassionate to your older tenants
Being a landlord to older tenants can take an emotional toll. As elderly tenants age, they might forget to pay their rent on the correct date or accidentally pay an incorrect amount, or frequently misplace their house keys. When you are a caring landlord, this can often be upsetting to see if you have formed a close bond with your tenants over the years.
If you have a close relationship with your older tenants, it might be a good idea to keep the emergency contact details of a family member or friend so that you can notify someone in case of an emergency.
6. Know the law concerning housing and older tenants in Australia
As a landlord, it’s always a good idea to know the laws concerning older tenants to ensure your property meets health and safety laws. The laws are enforced by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and have been put in place to protect the residency rights of tenants. They also highlight the responsibilities of NSW landlords when renting out their properties.
No matter who your tenants are, you should always know the law concerning housing in Australia so you can provide the best accommodation possible. You can read up about your obligations and rights online.
Learn more about providing housing to older tenants
ConnectAbility Australia is available to offer support and information for older tenants and their landlords in New South Wales.
To learn more about home adaptations and receive information about landlord responsibilities when renting to older tenants with disabilities, be sure to contact us through our website or by calling our office on (02) 49621000 in Newcastle and (02) 4349 3700 on the Central Coast to see how we can help.