The number of elderly people renting in America increased from 24.4% to 27% in 2016, which means that, contrary to what you always see, millennial and people older than 30 are not the only renters in the U.S. today.
That said, you should be fully aware that there’s definitely a large difference between these two groups, and that elderly tenants might just be the more complex to deal with. You need to envision other ways of approaching them and accommodate them in a space that suits all their needs, so they can live comfortably and at ease. Have no idea where to start?
Here we tell you seven things to consider when renting to elderly tenants
1. Stay up to date with anti-discrimination laws
When it comes to housing laws, the elderly have plenty of protections. If you’re aware of all these, then you have a great advantage in preventing lawsuits for infringement of rights. There are scenarios where you might never expect to be infringing on any kind of norm, such as when you ask elderly tenants if they have any disability or special needs; this counts as discrimination, and the same happens when inquiring on matters regarding religion, familial status, ethnicity, and race. To ensure a good knowledge of these cases, you can consult a local landlord’s association to provide you with answers to all your doubts, and also, don’t forget to treat all your tenants equally and not have special requirements or conditions based on age.
2. Make a property livable for disabled tenants
Properties, according to the law, requires landlords to make a door wheelchair-accessible and installing grab bars in a bathroom. This can vary from state to state and the type of unit you own, but the statute for these modifications is still federal. Disabilities are more common for seniors, more if they’re older than 65 years old. Safety is essential to the elderly, as that’s the first thing they ask about when moving somewhere new. Accessibility ramps, handrails on staircases, security cameras, and even panic buttons, are part of the modifications you should consider if you want to be a choice for elderly tenants.
3. Keep it old school
Modernity has everyone glued to their phone screen, as you can do practically everything with it, including paying your bills. The younger generation might be able to digitally pay you the rent because it’s faster and easier, right? But older people may prefer to pay you the old school way, which is by giving you the money directly. You need to be open to these habits, as it will project flexibility and sympathy from your part. But who knows? Maybe you’ll get a surprise when they come to you all geared up with the latest technology, and well, paying online will be more than fine.
4. Enforce Rent Rules
When having elderly tenants, it’s possible that you may have to change your payment routine, as their pension payment may come at a certain time of the month. Communication is key if you don’t want them to fall behind on payments. To prevent elderly tenants from being late on their rent, you need to observe and stay up to date with their financial status, so they don’t endanger your own. Rules are helpful in these cases. Avoid adjusting the rent due date; but if you do and things don’t improve, focus on finding new housing for the tenant. However, you should keep in mind that some charitable agencies will not take tenants that are more than 30 days behind in rent payments.
5. If eviction is needed, tread carefully
Most of the times, the elderly have legal protection when it comes to discrimination and unfairness. You are not allowed to deny lease to the elderly based on age, and you aren’t allowed to evict them for the same reason. So before taking any decision, you should consult your situation with an attorney, including the landlord’s association as well, to avoid any possible lawsuit. The best thing you can do is having your research on point, so the leasing process doesn’t turn into a mess.
6. Stay open to make it a pet-friendly space
It’s not unusual for older adults to have pets for companionship, whether as a precaution, protection or to simply not feel lonely. Truth is, most elderly value their pets as they do their lives, so instead of not allowing pets in apartments, maybe you can reach an agreement with the tenant regarding their pets. How? You could allow only cats, or cats and small dogs. It will all depend on the situation, but it’ll be up to you in the end.
7. Learn about help groups available for elderly tenants
Eviction in most cases is not the only solution to any issues you might be having with an elderly tenant, as there are many minor problems that can be solved with the help of the community. Paid organizations can help your tenant deal with daily activities, financial management, cash assistance for eviction prevention, and more.
Some examples are:
- The Red Cross
- The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program
- Local offices of elder care
- Local churches or synagogues
- Catholic Charities (the tenant doesn’t need to be a Catholic to get this help)
Hoarding cases can be approached by Los Angeles Foundation on Aging, a group in which you can find a program that helps older adults who struggle with hoarding. So if you happen to have a tenant that deals with this in their daily lives, this can be an option. Also, always remember that a short-term cash assistance program can help a family to intervene before eviction starts being imminent.