One in four renters in the UK’s private rented sector (PRS) have reportedly been made physically sick as a direct result of problems caused by housing, according to housing charity Shelter. They claimed the number was equivalent to two million people.
Conducted in conjunction with YouGov, Shelter’s new survey shed a light on the extent of the UK’s housing crisis, and the toll that it has had on not only the physical but also mental health of those living in the PRS.
Last week, SpareRoom revealed that London renters paid some of the highest rental bills in the UK, worth an average of £783 per month, as the supply of rental properties in the capital failed to keep up with demand in late 2019.
Leading causes of ill health
Some of the main causes of stress for renters in the PRS included the poor quality of housing stock they were subjected to.
At the start of the year, one of the government’s first major policy announcements addressed the growing issue of slipping standards in the PRS, as they introduced measures aimed at cracking down on criminal landlords and agents.
Places such as Thurrock were earmarked for a boost in funding to help target care services, to ensure that vulnerable tenants were no longer being forced to live in poor-quality homes, unsuitable for long-term residential use, which had often been converted from former seaside holiday homes.
Shelter’s survey highlighted the issue of sub-standard housing across the PRS, in the case of Claire, a mother of two based in Poole, renting a home in a state of disrepair, who ultimately got served a Section 21 eviction notice.
Claire claimed: “We went through hell fighting for repairs to be done and then we got an eviction notice. I was in a mess and couldn’t function properly. Everything felt like it was going wrong. I already had problems with my mental health and suffered from post-natal depression following the birth of my first child.
“And we were paying for the privilege – £900 a month – but we were still evicted. It was a painful experience and so awful. There’s no reason for people to have to go through that.”
Housing heartache for many
Shelter referred to Claire’s story as just one of many in the PRS, with their survey claiming that 33 per cent of renters, or up to 2.8 million adults, had been kept awake at night by housing concerns.
Andrea Deakin, an emergency helpline manager at Shelter, said: “Everyday at Shelter, we see the toll that expensive, unstable or poor-quality private renting can take on peoples’ lives and their health. We know how easy it can be to lose hope and feel overwhelmed by these worries, but our message is that you do not have to face them alone.”
Shelter released its research as part of a broader Winter Appeal, aimed at reaching out to the general public, to help raise funds to support those that they claimed were worst-affected by what they called the UK’s housing emergency.