Older Women in the Private Rental Sector: Unaffordable, Substandard and Insecure Housing

Single older women aged 55 and over are overrepresented amongst the asset poor in Australia. They are also one of the fastest growing groups of homeless people nationally. This status is a product of a number of risks that accrue to women across the life course including gendered differences in pay and superannuation. It is also a product of an unaffordable and insecure private rental system. This report presents the experiences of single older women living on low incomes in the private rental sector within and around the Greater Sydney region, Australia. It presents their efforts to make home and meet their essential needs in a segment of the housing market where rising rents and short lease terms of six to twelve months are the norm. First, the report presents women’s experiences of unaffordable housing. Older women renters face difficulties finding appropriate, quality housing. High housing costs have implications for budget management, including the ability to buy sufficient nutritious food and manage utility bills. Further, affordable housing is often of low or degraded quality. Second, the report presents women’s experiences of housing insecurity. Rent increases and evictions often required women to move house. Women described the challenges moving house and how these challenges compounded over time through multiple experiences of unchosen and unplanned relocations. Ongoing housing insecurity drives interconnected financial, physical and emotional costs.
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