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Buy-to-let investors looking for a different market may be interested in the increase in the number of older people who are renting homes. Property firm, Girlings Retirement Rentals, says there has been a significant increase in the number of retirees who are renting. At present, about one in 10 people living in private rentals is aged 65 or more, but the rental specialist company believes the number is growing quickly. There could be many factors involved, such as selling their home to release cash for their retirement, the maintenance benefits of renting in later life, and the changing attitude towards renting.

This trend has also been spotted by the National Landlords Association, which found the number of retired people moving into rented accommodation has risen by 200,000 since 2012. Another study by LSL Corporate Client Department Ltd showed nearly one in five people aged 55-plus are renting.

By selling the family home, older people can free up cash and can move into a more manageable home. They may want to rent in a retirement complex, move closer to essential services like GP surgeries and shops, or live in a community with a higher percentage of older people to enjoy a social life. They have the freedom to move to somewhere they have always wanted to live, such as the seaside or nearer their family, rather than living where they needed to for work,

For buy-to-let investors, this could be an interesting additional to their portfolio. Older people are likely to be looking for long-term rentals because they are keen to find somewhere to settle in, to enjoy their retirement. They are also less likely to damage property than families with young children or a group of singletons.

Properties to look out for could be bungalows with small gardens, flats with lifts and outside spaces such as communal gardens, small homes with a downstairs bathroom, homes with nice kitchens for cooking or entertaining, or quiet areas such as cul-de-sacs, that are still close to the town centre, shops, restaurants and public transport.

Top places to invest in homes for retired people include Christchurch in Dorset, where nearly one in three people is retired. The tourist town has a stunning harbour, pretty cottages and specialist shops among its attractions. West Somerset also has a high number of retired people – 29% of the population – who are attracted by the rural landscape of the Quantocks and Exmoor, along with charming English towns such as Wells and Glastonbury, further east towards the Mendips. Dramatic landscapes are the main appeal in North Norfolk, where 28% of the population is retired, with traditional fishing villages, beaches and marshes, as well as family-run shops all adding to the appeal. The East Sussex coast, particularly the towns of Rye, Battle and Winchelsea, attract the art-and-craft pensioners who find plenty of things to do there, and the area also enjoys good rail connections and superb beaches.

These districts will always be attractive to older people looking for a beautiful place for their retirement, as well as holidaymakers, so buy-to-let properties in those places will be a solid investment for many years to come.