Almost a third of private renters have been kept awake at night by housing concerns, according to research by homeless charity Shelter.
YouGov, on behalf of the charity, surveyed almost 4,000 adult private renters, of which 45% reported feeling stressed or anxious in the past year about their housing situation. Some 32% said their housing problems had left them feeling hopeless. Almost a quarter said they had felt physically ill. A similar number said housing worries had affected their eating or diet.
Shelter said the winter is a particularly bleak time of the year and has urged tenants experiencing problems to get in touch and use their services. National mental health charity Mind has backed the Shelter/YouGov research and called for more work into the link between private renting and mental health.
The Residential Landlords Association argued the report was misleading. It pointed to the 2017/8 English Housing Survey private rented sector report which found that 84% of private sector tenants are very or fairly satisfied with their accommodation.
RLA policy director David Smith said: “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.”
Dan Wilson Craw, director of the renters’ group Generation Rent, said: “There are a lot of landlords who take their responsibilities seriously and do what they can to treat tenants well. But the key point that the RLA doesn’t acknowledge is that it’s so much worse in the private rented sector compared with social housing, where tenants are generally more satisfied – and owner occupiers, who are almost unanimously satisfied.
“Most tenants are well aware of what their landlord is capable of, and they have valid concerns. The fact that [the right to regain possession of a property under] Section 21 [of the Housing Act 1988] exists does put tenants in a precarious position. We can overcome that by reforming tenancy laws.”