'Trapped' tenants over 40 face paying mortgage in old age

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The Independent Online

More than a quarter of those who feel "trapped" in the rental sector are aged over 40 and risk the burden of paying off a mortgage well into retirement, according to research released today.

Figures show that so-called "trapped renters" – those who want to buy but cannot afford to, not least because of high rents – make up 55 per cent of tenants and that 27 per cent of their number would become "OAP mortgagees", should they manage to buy a property.

"With the spiralling cost of private rental I have no idea where I will move with my children next. I feel that by now I shouldn't be having these issues, but without a lottery win can't even imagine how someone of my age could possibly get on the housing ladder," said 45-year-old Donna Taylor from Birmingham, who has never owned a house and is living in student accommodation, having just been awarded a first-class degree.

Ms Taylor, who is pursuing a place on a postgraduate course and has three children – two of whom live at home – said she fears she has "well and truly missed the boat". She said: "As my children grew up I worked part-time menial jobs to keep the household ticking over. Now divorced, I find myself struggling to find accommodation that is affordable and in a half decent area.

"All of my life I've lived on council estates and I would really like the chance to break that cycle. It's incredibly depressing to get to my age and realise that you own nothing except a hefty student debt." Ms Taylor's story, according to the figures, is not uncommon. The survey, from property website Rightmove, shows that the over-40s looking to buy now face either trying to pay off their mortgage in a shorter time or becoming an "OAP mortgagee" later in life.

In addition, 39 per cent of those who feel trapped in the rental system expect to still be renting in three years, a rise from 32 per cent a year ago, the figures, from a sample of 4,430 people, showed.

Martin Shipside, Rightmove director, said: "More than half of those in rented accommodation would like to buy but can't make the sums add up and as a result are trapped.

"The global economic woes that have left first-time buyer numbers at record lows will shatter the goals and aspirations of many as they face the reality of renting for far longer than they originally planned.

The figures also showed that more than half of tenants expect their rents to rise in the next year, due to the shortage of supply.

An earlier survey, published in The Independent, revealed that average rental costs are at their highest level on record and now account for more than half the UK's average household net income.

Mortgage lenders have been lowering their rates as the Bank of England's base rate remains at a historic 0.5 per cent low, but those who want to get on the property ladder face difficulties such as job insecurity and raising a deposit.

55 per cent of tenants would like to buy a home but cannot afford to