Damp, mouldy and unaffordable homes are harming a fifth of renters’ health



Poor-quality homes plagued with issues such as damp, mould and unaffordability are harming a fifth of renters’ health, according to research.

Nineteen per cent of people in private or social rented homes told a survey commissioned by the charity Shelter that their housing situation was affecting their or their family’s mental health, while 11 per cent said the same for their physical health – working out at 22 per cent overall.

Common issues plaguing renters were said to include damp and mould (affecting 26 per cent of renters), being unable to heat their home (26 per cent), constantly struggling to pay rent (21 per cent) and fear of eviction (21 per cent).

A separate poll for Shelter, of private renters only, found that 22 per cent said their housing issues or worries had made them physically sick.

A further fifth said these issues had negatively affected their performance at work.

Shelter 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.”

She said the Government can ease pressure by helping renters clear arrears through targeted grants, and through private rental reforms, but that ultimately more social homes must be built.

Vicki Nash, head of policy, campaigns and public affairs at Mind, said: “Everyone deserves a safe, affordable, stable, and suitable place to live, not somewhere which makes us feel ‘hopeless’, and worsens our mental health.

“Social issues such as jobs, housing and benefits play a huge role in the nation’s mental health.

“Addressing the underlying causes of poor mental health can prevent people being pushed into poverty, allow people to live independently, and reduce the need for more intensive support further down the line.”

Shelter commissioned YouGov to carry out the survey of 3,197 renting adults in private or social rented homes in April.

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