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The number of over-50s who are living in private rented accommodation has risen steadily over the past five years.

Thirty two per cent of people aged 50 or more are now tenants, which is up from 26 per cent in 2011, according to research. Saga Home Insurance, which carried out the study, suggests that divorce could be the reason why more older people are moving into rented accommodation.

People aged 50 to 54 years old are increasingly likely to be renting; the research showed with a 15 per cent rise in those in this age group who are renting. This suggests that couples are selling the marital home as part of the divorce proceedings. If the profits are split 50/50 they may not be able to afford to buy in the same area or may not know exactly what they wish to do and thus rent property in the meantime.

If they want to stay in the same area because their family are there, renting may be the only option if they are not working and cannot get a mortgage or if the prices are out of reach.

The soaring prices of property in most of the UK will also mean that they could struggle to buy, just like many younger people who have been dubbed Generation Rent as they may never be able to get a foot on the property ladder.

As it is increasingly likely that more people will split up when the children leave home, the number of tenants in this demographic group could rise still further. So it is worth considering when looking at fitting and furnishing buy-to-lets whether you want to target the over-50s. They may prefer a small but secure family home with a garden rather than an apartment.

This group may also look for a better-fitted kitchen in comparison with a younger tenant who may be more inclined to eat out. The older generation may also prefer a second bedroom for the children or grandchildren and better security locks on windows and doors, particularly if they are feeling vulnerable or threatened after an acrimonious separation

There are about 4.4 million households in the private rental sector and this figure is only set to rise with more ‘silver splitters’ needing to rent when they divorce, in combination with a rise in under-35s who simply cannot afford to buy.

One study suggests that within 10 years, nine out of 10 British people under 35 years of ago on modest incomes will not be able to afford their own home. The Resolution Foundation said that this age group is facing up to the possibility of renting their entire lives. Home ownership is increasingly being considered the preserve of the well-off and the elderly.

Figures show that in 1998 more than half of 16-34-year-olds living in households with an income of less than 50 per cent of the national average were in the process of buying their own home. This dropped to 25 per cent by 2014 and is predicted to fall to 10 per cent by 2025 and as low as five per cent in London.

This forecast shows there is an increasing need for rental accommodation for two very different sectors.