Renters have higher levels of harmful stress levels than homeowners, according to new research.
A survey of almost 4,000 renters by Shelter found that some private renters have fallen ill as a result of housing worries, owed in part to the health impacts of insecure housing in the PRS, suggesting that renting privately could be harmful to the health.
Almost a quarter - 24% - said housing problems or worries such as affording the rent, poor conditions, or fears over losing a tenancy had made them feel this way in the past year.
Some 45% of those surveyed had experienced stress and anxiety as a direct result of their housing concerns, 32% said housing worries kept them up at night, and 32% said they felt hopeless as a result.
Cllr David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, said: “It is alarming that so many private renters are suffering from housing worries, and councils want to work with government to help meet the challenges renters face.
“With more powers such as the freedom to establish landlord licensing schemes, councils would be better placed to support a good quality local private rented offer in their communities.
“While it was good the government ended the Local Housing Allowance rate freeze, it now needs to go further in the forthcoming Budget and restore the rate to at least the 30th percentile of market rents, which would help households being pushed into financial hardship to meet their housing costs.”
Also responding to the research published by Shelter today, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says that no one should feel ill or stressed as a result of their housing situation, whether that it is in the private or social rented sectors or in the homeownership market.
But the RLA urges caution on groups claiming to represent tenants who might be fuelling stress felt by them by giving the false impression that landlords spend all their time looking for ways to evict their tenants or increase their rents.
The RLA points to official statistics which show that 84% of private sector tenants are very or fairly satisfied with their current accommodation, a higher proportion than tenants in the social rented sector.
Research also reveals that private sector tenants live in the same rental properties for an average of 4.1 years, the amount that tenants in private rented housing are paying in rent as a proportion of their income is falling, while almost 90% of tenancies brought to an end are done so by the tenant, not the landlord.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “We accept that, unfortunately, some private sector tenants will feel unhappy and stressed as a result of their housing but the same will apply to many social housing tenants and owner-occupiers. We accept also that not all landlords are perfect but the objective assessment is that the overwhelming majority of private sector tenants are satisfied with their accommodation and enjoy a good relationship with their landlord.
“It is vital that tenant groups properly reflect this, rather than stoking fears that tenants are about to be evicted for no apparent reason, live in sub-standard accommodation and are charged exorbitant rents. This is simply not true and it is irresponsible to suggest so.
“We do all we can to support landlords to provide high standard, secure and affordable tenancies and we call on tenant organisations to work with us to help achieve this and root out the bad landlords that none of us wishes to see in the market.”