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Housing

The stress and anxiety of private renting “making people ill”

A Shelter poll claims two million renters have been made physically sick by the pressures of renting as landlords hit back at “stoked fears”

More than two million renters have been left physically ill by their experience of private renting, a Shelter poll has claimed.

Researchers on behalf of the housing charity quizzed nearly 4,000 private renters, according to The Guardian, and found that the overhanging threat of eviction as well as dealing with poor living conditions and steep rent costs left 2.7 million “feeling hopeless”.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate insists that the government’s Renters’ Reform Bill must ensure must that renters receive greater protections after it was revealed in the Queen’s Speech. The government has already pledged to scrap Section 21 evictions – known as “no-fault evictions” which allow landlords to evict tenants without providing a reason – as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill.

“A whole generation of children risk growing up surrounded by this constant stress and anxiety. This cannot go on,” said Neate.

“In the Queen’s Speech, the government announced the Renters’ Reform Bill, a once in a generation chance to rebalance the power between renters and their landlords, and make renting fairer.

“We see a lot of promise in these reforms, and look forward to working with the government to ensure that real and ambitious change is achieved.”

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However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have hit back against Shelter’s research, citing English Housing Survey figures showing that 84 per cent of private sector tenants are very or fairly satisfied with their current accommodation.

“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,” said David Smith, policy director for the RLA.

“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.”

Shelter’s poll comes just days after the Department of Work Pensions revealed that the Local Housing Allowance freeze would end.

However, the charity is united with other homelessness and housing contemporaries – St Mungo’s, the National Housing Federation and Crisis – in stressing that it will do little to help tenants cover the cost of rent.

After being frozen since 2016, LHA will rise in line with the Consumer Price Index, equating to around £10 per month.

Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince says that the change will “level up opportunity and be a welcome increase for around 900,000 people”.

But Shelter have pointed out that rents, on average, have risen by 15 per cent since the freeze was brought in and have increased by 1.7 per cent outside of London, according to the Office for National Statistics. With LHA set to also rise by 1. 7 per cent, they argue that the change will be completely negated.

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