Shelter poll claims 22% of renters health is being harmed by poor housing

Shelter poll claims 22% of renters health is being harmed by poor housing

9:26 AM, 13th October 2021, About 2 months ago 16

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A new YouGov poll commissioned by Shelter report claims the health of 22% of renters in England is being harmed by poor housing, with the most common problems plaguing renters’ mental and physical health.

They include damp and mould, which affects 26% of all renters; being unable to heat their home (also affects 26%); constantly struggling to pay rent (21%) and fear of eviction (19%). Renters experiencing any one of these issues are three times more likely than renters without these issues to say their current housing situation is harming their health.

In a separate poll of private renters only, since the start of the pandemic:

39% said their housing problems or worries left them feeling stressed and anxious

22% said their housing issues or worries made them physically sick

21% said their housing issues had negatively affected their performance at work.

The findings come as renters are set to head into another challenging winter with soaring fuel costs, the £20 cut to Universal Credit and shorter notice periods for private renters all taking effect. 44% of the people who turned to Shelter’s services for help last year said they were struggling to cope on a daily basis, which points to the intense pressure renters are under.

Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate said: “The cost of poor housing is spilling out into overwhelmed GP surgeries, mental health services, and hours lost from work. The new Housing Secretary must get a grip on the housing crisis and tackle a major cause of ill health.

“Listening to the calls flooding into our helpline there is no doubt that health and housing go hand in hand. Yet, millions of renters are living in homes that make them sick because they are mouldy, cold, unaffordable and grossly insecure. The stress and suffering that comes with not knowing if you can pay your rent from month to month, or if you will face eviction is huge.

“The government can ease the pressure on renters’ health now by providing targeted grants to clear rent arrears built up during the pandemic, and by making good on its promise to reform private renting. But ultimately the housing crisis will never be cured until we build the decent social homes that more people need to live a healthy life.”

The Poll

The number of households who say ‘their housing situation is harming their health’ is taken from a nationally representative survey of 13,268 adults, of which, 3,197 are renting adults (18+) in England living in private and social rented homes. The survey asked questions around the circumstances of peoples’ housing situations, alongside mental and physical health questions. It was carried out online by YouGov on behalf of Shelter between 6-14 April 2021.

Broken down, 19% of renters say their housing situation harms their or their family’s mental health, and 11% say theirs or their family’s physical health is suffering. When combined, we see that 22% of renters said their physical and/ or mental health was affected.

Based on the 2019/20 English Housing Survey there are 8.4 million renting households in England; therefore 22% is equal to 1.9 million households with health impacts from their housing.

Where quoted, the number of adults in social and private rented housing has been calculated by Shelter based on the English Housing Survey 2019-2020 published by MHCLG and estimates of the average number of adults per household. See table:

Housing issues affecting renter’s health

Housing issues % of private renting adults affected Estimated number of renting adults affected
My home has a significant mould, condensation or damp problems 26% 3.8 million
I cannot keep my home warm in winter 26% 3.8 million
I/we regularly have to cut spending on household essentials like food or heating to pay the rent/ mortgage payments on my home 21% 3 million

Shelter also compared the health responses of those with or without specific issues in their home. As can be seen from the table below, for each individual issue, the proportion of renters that agreed ‘my current housing situation harms my/my family’s physical and/or mental health’ is three times greater for those with a specific housing issues, when compared with those who do not have the specific housing issue. See table:

The health impacts of housing issues

The health impacts of housing issues at least one issue with physical or mental health impacts from the home (%)
Mould – No issue present 14%
Mould – Yes, issue present 46%
Thermal efficiency – No issue present 15%
Thermal efficiency – Yes, issue present 44%
Cutting back to pay housing – No issue present 15%
Cutting back to pay housing – Yes, issue present 48%
Being asked to leave/security of tenure – No issue present 16%

A further YouGov survey explores the impact of housing problems on the health of private renters only e.g. how many feel anxious, physically sick or their performance at work is affected. These percentages, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov PLC. Total sample size was 3,561 adults (18+) who live in private rented accommodation in England. Fieldwork was carried out online between 6 August – 7 September. Numbers of private renting adults have been calculated by Shelter using data from the English Housing Survey 2019-2020 published by MHCLG. See table below:

Health impact of housing problems or worries on private renting adults in England

Health impact of housing problems or worries on private renting adults in England % of private renting adults affected Estimated number of private renting adults affected
Left feeling stressed and anxious (since March 2020/since the start of the pandemic) 39% 3.2 million
Made them physically ill/ sick (since March 2020/since the start of the pandemic) 22% 1.8 million

The percentage of people coming to Shelter’s services who said ‘they cannot cope on a daily basis’ is taken from responses to Shelter’s annual Outcomes Survey. The Outcomes Survey is a quantitative telephone survey carried out with approximately 2,000 clients from England by research agency BMG Research. The interviews were conducted in 2020-2021 at least three months after a client case was closed, and no more than a year after a case was closed. Each client represents a household, which can contain multiple occupants. The sample is broadly representative of Shelter’s total client population and is weighted based on the type of service received and broad geographical regions. People who have used the webchat or online advice pages are excluded from the Survey.


by Accommodation Provider

11:00 AM, 16th October 2021, About 2 months ago

Can we have similar research for landlords please ? I am suffering from stress because tenants have all the rights and I am on a hiding to nothing more and more, tenants can wreck my house, throw spanners in washing machines, create leaks, the council or government do not support me at all but the tenants - and so do DPS and even the courts work against landlords. would love to exit but capital gains tax - and what is left after tax Boris makes disappear with inflation and more taxes. pretty stressful being a landlord.

by Mick Roberts

11:31 AM, 16th October 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Accommodation Provider at 16/10/2021 - 11:00
Yes many of us have suffered Mental Health problems, yet it appears cause there are 2 million Landlords, and 9+ million renters, they'd get more votes if they make several of us Landlords have breakdowns.

I had no problems for 20+ years, housed hundreds of Council Homeless, many been with me over 20 years no problems, latest top spec boiler etc. Could have lived there forever. And now we subject to this & that cause they find a few bad Landlords.

I'm going nuts, can't cope. My mate Pete summed it up if u listening Pete, he said they expecting us to do 4 times as much for half the money.

Many of us with no mortgages on the houses are better off financially if we sold the houses & also free up 70 hours pw. Yet we doing the right thing & having to keep em for the tenants cause this Shelter & Labour & Govt Anti-Landlord rhetoric is actually making it worse for the tenants & Benefit tenants can't move any more. No Landlord will take 'em any more & even if so, rents are extortionate cause Landlords can charge what they like. And why shun't they, supply & demand. I have morals & conscience & do the right thing to my existing tenants, but if I did have one come up that I was keeping, I'm gonna be joining the High rents bandwagon & look after meself for a change.


12:52 PM, 16th October 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 16/10/2021 - 11:31
Be careful with the high rents comments. Sooner or later
rent control will arrive, particularly if the Liberal/Left get in.

by Mick Roberts

14:17 PM, 16th October 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by neilt at 16/10/2021 - 12:52
I hope rent controls come in, I then may finally for the first time in 24 years get a rent increase every year & just maybe the tenants may then get the appropriate amount of Housing Benefit to match the current rent.


15:53 PM, 16th October 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 16/10/2021 - 14:17
And with it will come security of tenure, plus you may be reliant on the Rent Officer's valuations, up or down; most likely down one might expect. Not a gamble I'd like to take.

by Mick Roberts

16:02 PM, 16th October 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by neilt at 16/10/2021 - 15:53
Yes u right.
They already got almost security of tenure han't they.

Ooh yes remember the Rent Officer days, mainly below value wasn't they. Ha ha as u say as I read on.

I've always found though in any business, the more we get hammered, others can't survive & if u can survive, u end up better off.

Since all these attacks I'm much better off financially, however as I wish to slow down, it's time I want, not any extra funds.

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