Moving the elderly to smaller houses could help deal with the growing number of young families looking for housing, according to The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
About 30 per cent of older couples are living in houses with seven or more rooms. And over a quarter of people aged above 50 live alone in homes that have five rooms.
Justin Moran from the charity Age Action, which provides services for older people, expressed concerns about the isolation and loneliness that moving house could effect.
“They don’t want to move out to homes were they don’t know their neighbours, and their family may have moved nearby. This gives an enormous sense of security.”
The ESRI believe the space could be better utilised to accommodate first time buyers in a housing market that can’t keep up with demand. On average the deposit for buyers to secure a mortgage in Dublin is €50,000.
Their research found that a vast majority of older people had extra rooms but only three per cent of people over 50 moved house in the three years of research.
Moran suggests the idea is fundamentally flawed, he said: “The problem with the ESRI report is they’re saying older people should be incentivised to move out, but not really addressing the problem that’s there’s very few places for them to move to”.
“If an older person sells their home and is given a cash incentive, they’re going to be looking to downsize. The very people they’re bidding against are first time buyers who’ve saved up for their starter home in order to get their first foot in the property ladder.”
He suggests initiatives such as Homeshare, which pares people looking for housing with an older person, as a better method of dealing with utilising excess space.
Moran also mentioned the lack of local sheltered housing communities which could make it more likely for that age bracket to move out, but he says there are very few.