7 Things to Consider When Renting to Elderly Tenants
Recently, renting to elderly tenants has become more common. Elderly renter households have increased by 43% over the past decade. Those 60 and older often downsize their homes after retirement so they don't have to care or maintain their property. As a result, it's up to landlords to know how to accommodate them.
Here are seven considerations when renting to elderly tenants.
1. Refusal-to-rent laws
Elderly individuals have certain legal rights under local, state and federal law. It's important to note that many states maintain their own refusal-to-rent guidelines. For example, while Maryland itself doesn't specify age as a protected class, Baltimore does. These regulations vary across states and municipalities, so make sure you know the laws that apply to you.
2. Emergency contacts
When an older tenant signs a lease, you should require them to provide emergency contact information. It's crucial to have people to call if there's an issue. Not every older adult lives near their family, so you may want to ask for phone numbers of preferred physicians and/or hospitals. By doing so, you'll be able to communicate with those who can provide help if an emergency occurs.
3. Straightforward accessibility
Ensure that your tenants have easy access to every area inside and outside their rental. Take a look at your units to determine if they're well-equipped for older adults, especially those with mobility issues. Your renters should be able to navigate their homes safely without any worries.
An elevator provides convenience and independence for anyone who can't reliably use the stairs. Similarly, accessibility ramps and panic buttons can make a notable difference. There should also be signs to help people navigate spaces like parking garages, if applicable.
4. Technological alternatives
Even if you're all about smart locks and bulbs, it may be best to exclude these from rentals housing older individuals. While smart bulbs and locks can provide a space that is safer and offers more independence, you may find that many seniors still prefer their home to be more equipped with traditional features.
5. Lease agreements
You shouldn't have to make any changes to your standard lease agreements renting to elderly tenants. That said, you may need to be a bit more lenient. Many seniors rely on social security and other pension benefits as their sole income, however, not everyone receives their payments near the beginning of the month when rent is normally due. This means they may not have enough money saved to pay their rent before they receive their payment. As a result, they may make late payments.
Keep in mind a tenant may be able to break the lease if they choose to move to a care facility.
6. Pet-friendly rules
Many older adults like to have pets as companions. If your rental doesn’t allow pets, keep in mind the seniors who do have dogs and cats. It may be worthwhile to reconsider changing your no pet policy if you want your renters to feel at home. You could compromise and only allow small animals under a certain weight limit to help maintain your rental unit.
7. Security measures
When renting to elderly tenants, it's essential to thoroughly evaluate your property’s safety before leasing to anyone. Beyond your legal obligations, you should take a look around your units' interiors and exteriors to ensure that each space has bright lights, even floors and secure locks. These efforts can prevent tenant injuries, especially for elderly individuals with mobility issues.
Remember these points for your older tenants
These points can help you navigate any obstacles you may encounter with elderly tenants. Be sure to keep an open mind so that you and your renters maintain a positive relationship.