Age in Place as a Renter

Seniors Can Age in Place as Renters

By 2030 the number of seniors renting will rise from about 5 million to more than 12 million according to Rolf Pendall, director of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute.  This means that the number of senior tenants that want to age in place will also increase. However, aging in place as a tenant is more challenging than aging in a home of your own. The fact that you don’t own that property you are renting means you are not free to renovate it as you please.

kitchen apartment

Lease agreement limitations

Lease agreements can impact the freedom to use or renovate a house in order to make it easier for you to age in place. You must get the consent of the homeowner to do things like change the carpet or paint.  If you live in an apartment building that has no elevators, reaching your apartment by climbing a flight of stairs can be a nightmare. For example, over half the rental units in New York City are located in buildings without elevators according to a 2016 report by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

What landlords can do

Landlords can work with older tenants when hiring a superintendent or maintenance man. Seniors may not see family or friends for several days at a time, which means that the maintenance man is the only friendly face that they can connect with regularly.  So landlords should train staff on how to  respond to older tenant emergencies, and how to intervene when they notice an older tenant struggling with common tasks. The landlord can ask the building staff to conduct regular home safety assessments to do things like mitigate fall risks.  Regular assessments also allow the landlord to know their older tenants and their needs, and whether they would be open to modifications where they live.

Ways tenants can modify their homes

If your landlord forbids any extensive modifications, there are other simpler things you can do. Add more lighting in every entry area in your home using  LED tape lighting that you can stick on a surface on the entry ways.  You can also use suction grab bars in the bathroom that you can hold onto for balance.  Another area you should be concerned with is the floor, because one in four Americans aged 65 and over falls each year according the National Council on Aging.  So, to reduce fall risks you can use peel-and-stick anti-slip tiles or opt for wall to wall carpets.

Senior apartments

If your landlord is not open to any changes, you should consider moving to senior apartments. Senior living apartments offer accessibility and a sense of community among tenants. You are likely to find that these apartments have limited stairs, wheelchair accessible units, handrails in the bathroom and more. These apartments can vary from suite-style apartments with common living spaces to condos and duplexes.

Fortunately, with the introduction of smart home devices that are wireless and wearable devices that can monitor your health, senior aging in place in apartments is becoming easier.  Generally, the number of senior homeowners will increase to 33.7 million in 2030 according to Pendall. This means a number of seniors will still be able to renovate their homes extensively to allow them to age in place comfortably.