A new study by a university suggests that some tenants are apparently afraid to speak out about the condition of the property for fear of being evicted.
The study is led by the University of Glasgow on behalf of the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence: it has been co-funded by the TDS Charitable Foundation and the SafeDeposits Charitable Trust.
It involved interviews with just 53 tenants from across the UK in March 2021.
Author Dr McKee, senior lecturer in social policy and housing at the University of Stirling, says: "The relationship between the tenant and their landlord is particularly important. Yet it was not always easy for tenants to speak up and raise their concerns, especially for those on the lowest incomes who had limited alternative housing options available to them.”
Some participants spoke positively about their landlord and/or letting agent, highlighting their responsiveness, flexibility, and good communication.
Others claimed that managing this relationship was challenging and had negative impacts on their wellbeing; some tenants taking part in the study said they would refrain from asking landlords to carry out repairs or upgrades because of a fear of possibly putting the tenancy at risk if, for instance, the landlord was perceived to lack the necessary funds to carry out the repairs.
Some tenants worried about their ability to remain in an area or neighbourhood and made pragmatic trade-offs – they were willing to accept poorer quality properties that detrimentally impacted their health and wellbeing in order to access a particular location for convenience to social networks, employment, schools and childcare.
In addition, the study found that older renters were particularly concerned about their ability to rely on the private rented sector over time.
Another author - Dr Harris, senior research associate at the University of Bristol - adds: "These findings show that satisfaction statistics alone do not provide an adequate measure of wellbeing or how well the sector is operating. Some people may report being satisfied because their last housing situation was significantly worse, or because they don’t expect to achieve any better."
Steve Harriott from the TDS Charitable Foundation comments: "This is a fascinating piece of qualitative research which provides insight into what tenants think about living in the private rented sector”.
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