London, 10th October 2022 - BNP Paribas Real Estate analysis has revealed a current shortfall of 487,000+ senior living housing units across the UK, highlighting the urgency for a greater allocation of sites to the sector to accommodate an ageing population as the housing crisis intensifies. 

Assuming there is a 150 unit allocation per senior living scheme, this indicates that 3,245 communities need to be built to account for the lack in supply. The figures do not take into account the 31% expected growth in over 65s as life expectancy increases over the next 15 years.

According to the English Housing Survey, 80% of over 65s own their own home (either with a mortgage or outright). In the latest Housing Futures report, a consumer survey published by Strutt & Parker, 48% of those over the age of 66 would prefer to rent their next home.

Sam Rowland, Head of Healthcare and Senior Living at BNP Paribas Real Estate commented: “The current shortfall in housing product for senior living is indicative of the consumer misconceptions around the offer it provides and comparisons to the likes of care homes which provide an entirely different capacity of support to its residents.

“The lack of supply of homes across the UK is a cause for alarm. We live in an ageing population and in ‘generation rent’, and, with greater perception and awareness, investment should increase and thus help to support and combat the crisis as rental becomes a more viable option for those who wish to downsize and have the available capital and/or can lease their existing property out in favour of this sector, which can put, often underutilised family housing stock back into the market, improving availability for those in earlier stages in life.

“Senior living schemes consistently evolve to meet the needs of changing demographic requirements, which is part of its strength and appeal as a viable and amenity-led rental option with a real lifestyle-centric offer. There are many benefits to providing this in terms of the improvements it can make to residents health and wellbeing, thus relieving pressure on the NHS, the community it can provide; particularly across ages where loneliness can be prevalent, and the boost it can provide to local economies in terms of disposable income.”.

Rebecca Shafran, Alternatives Markets Research at BNP Paribas Real Estate added: “Home ownership unaffordability continues to ensure demand for rental property is high, yet the number of available homes has declined. The rising cost of living and increased interest rates is anticipated to impact on affordability further, driving more people to the rental market. The government, local authorities and the real estate industry desperately needs to plan ahead to create homes or free up alternative housing options for the growing percentage of life long renters and buyers.”

According to ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) only 0.6% of over-65s currently have the opportunity to live in an Integrated Retirement Community in the UK, compared to at least 5-6% in New Zealand, Australia, and the US. It estimates that around 70,000 Housing with care units in the UK house 90,000 people. There are 12.5m over 65s living in the UK (source ONS Population Projections 2020-based) and this is expected to increase to 16.5m by 2036.