Housing search for seniors: Over 65 difficult

How does housing search for senior citizens look today? Older people are less familiar with the latest digital methods than the younger generation. When they are looking for a new home, either voluntarily or involuntarily, their budget is usually limited. But there are solutions: In Zürich, retired real estate professionals help.

Jürg Zulliger

The problem of “housing search for seniors” has been discussed in public only marginally. But almost every day there are new case studies. Let's briefly tell the story of 72-year-old Samira D .: In 1975, she and her husband moved to a pretty, stylish apartment building in Seefeld in Zürich. But the old building is canceled. Due to several hardship cases in the house, the owner - a large insurance company - granted a further ten years of tenancy. But soon all apartments have to be empty.

Housing search for seniors: Over 65 difficult
housing search for seniors: Many people dream of living in a beautiful environment even in old age. Only - how do you find affordable, suitable apartments?

A home for retiree with cats

Pensioner Samira D., widowed for four years, has applied for a new apartment more than 20 times - in vain. She does not have a close family circle. The only thing that gives her some security at the moment is her two cats Jimmy and Maggie. Of course, she is aware of the fact that apartments are mainly marketed on Internet platforms today. "My grandson helps me," she says, "when I have to do something on the computer or on my mobile." The last time she looked for an apartment - more than 40 years ago - it all went a lot different.

Dieter Beeler, president of the SVIT Zürich industry association, says about housing search for seniors: "Inasmuch as many new offers are only on the net a short time, speed is indeed a significant factor." When older people first think carefully about whether this or that location would be eligible, others have submitted their application on-line at the same time.

In many ways, Samira D. cannot figure out why her application is unlikely to be short-listed. "As a tenant, I have always behaved correctly and have paid the rent on time over all these years», she continues. - Statistically it is difficult to prove, but from the age of 65+ and 70+ people are no longer the first choice in the housing administration.

Housing search for seniors: "Just sorted out?"

Walter Angst from the Zürich Tenants Association says: "If the batch of applications is large enough, older applicants are easily sorted out." The reasons can only be speculated: On the one hand, there is a trend in the industry to build rather larger, state-of-the-art and expensive apartments. Anyone who, like Samira D., has lived in a cheap old apartment for more than 40 years cannot suddenly raise CHF 2,000 or 3,000 for a new apartment. Of course, there are also wealthy pensioners. However, in many retiree households, one must get along with AHV and supplementary benefits.

Contingents of cooperatives

Pensioners like Samira D. are usually looking for very specific apartments that are generally in short supply: well located and easily payable. So many turn their hopes to charitable foundations and cooperatives. Samira Courti of the Allgemeine Baugenossenschaft Zürich (ABZ) explains that the ABZ accommodates older prospective tenants in various ways: “During the first renting of the newly built Glattpark with 286 new apartments, a contingent of 20 apartments was reserved especially for seniors.

While it was possible to apply for all other apartments on-line for three weeks, we have extended the deadline for these apartments by around six weeks," says the cooperative representative. Those who could not or did not want to complete the application on-line had the opportunity to appear at the administration personally. Both offers were hardly used in this case. Most of the applicants received help from their family and friends. More important from ABZ's point of view is that this target group is addressed directly - for example with a special flyer. Samira Courti’s conclusion is: "It is essential that the elderly know at an early stage about the various start-up and information points."

Housing search for seniors: Over 65 difficult
Cooperatives offer housing for all generations: Multi-generation house foundry (Image: Kurt Lampart/Gesewo cooperative)

This is confirmed by sampling at some large companies and organizations, such as Livit AG, one of Switzerland's largest real estate companies active throughout the country. "We offer a special service for refurbishments," says Marietta Hersche from Livit, "with our special tenant support, we help all tenants find a new home." Because, like other administrations, Livit is not the owner, the procedure and any support always depend on the owner's wishes.

Housing search for seniors: SVIT Senior

A few years ago, the branch organization SVIT Zürich took up the topic "Housing Seeking Senior Citizens". "Among other things, we organize information events for retirees," explains Dieter Beeler from SVIT Zürich. In addition, there are personal consultations in hardship cases. Anyway, the "Svit Senior" group has helped older tenants move into a new apartment in many cases.

The service is provided nota bene by retired professionals in the industry. Anyone who brings in good contacts and know-how from their work will be able to contribute significantly to a solution, even in difficult cases. Currently, experts are also concerned with improving the "housing search for seniors” sensitivity.

Industry representative Dieter Beeler believes prejudices, as they are still held in some administrations and landlords, simply unfounded: "Most older generation people are very pleasant tenants. They adhere to the rules of living together and have a good payment history.

Housing search for seniors: Tips that are worth gold

  • Determine housing needs: Clarify in advance exactly what you are looking for (size, location, maximum rent, environment, equipment, obstacle-free living, etc.).
  • References: If for you a suitable apartment is advertised, you should have all the documents ready! These include references (especially from the current landlord), proof and documentation of your income, extract from debt collection registers.
  • Support: Are you less familiar than your children or grandchildren with Internet on-line portals? Get support! Surely your children or other close confidants can give you tips, for example in searching for subscriptions, etc.
  • Viewing: Even though apartments are often advertised digitally, almost always a visit takes place. Try talking to the administrator. Collect information, be it on the basis of the rental documents, about other tenants in the house, about the property management. Think about what type of tenant might be wanted. The better you think about this situation, the better you can "sell" yourself.
  • Application: Today, the chances are no longer too great to obtain a good apartment from a "blind" application. Therefore, apply very explicitly to a real advertised apartment and go very specifically to this offer. It is imperative that you also observe the procedure specified in the documents or in the on-line advertisement.
  • Network: Sometimes, apartments are awarded secretly, tenants advertise an apartment on short notice («replacement tenants sought»). Your chances improve when you are constantly in a circle of acquaintances. Contact counseling centers in your community, ask cooperatives and foundations.
  • Counseling services: Almost all cities, neighborhoods and villages have contact points and information opportunities - for almost all concerns around the keyword "housing search for seniors." Only these places are called something different everywhere. Some are regional offices of Pro Senectute (housing advice is an important part), neighborhood helpers, information centers for seniors, etc.

Related housing search for seniors links:

Help and courses for seniors (at the trade association): SVIT Zürich: www.svit-senior.ch

Example communal neighborhood help: www.alter-kuessnacht.ch

Housing search for seniors: Over 65 difficult
The proportion of over 65s in the population is increasing. Many of them are active and fit!