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Pushed to the edge: Living Rent publishes findings from renters survey

Today we published the results from our renters survey where we asked tenants about their concerns regarding the end of emergency protections (April 2024) as well as their past experiences of eviction, rent increases, disrepair and barriers to renting. 

There were 703 answers from tenants living in the private rented sector (PRS) (see appendix 1 for full breakdown of responses by tenure). We first provide a summary of headline findings and then break down the statistics with qualitative extracts from responses in four main sections. 

The survey provides a crucial  snapshot of tenants’ concerns as emergency protections cease as well as key trends in tenant’s experiences. Overall, we believe that these findings and experiences demonstrate the failure of current legislation to adequately ensure everyone has a right to a safe, affordable and quality home. Importantly, they show how poor housing and low protections negatively impact people’s health and wellbeing. 

Headline findings

  • 62% of private tenants are worried they will be evicted once the ban on evictions ends on 31 March 2024, with almost all saying this prospect is having a negative impact on their mental health due to a variety of factors. 
    • Impacts include the prospect of becoming homeless (21.3%), being forced to move away from their current community and even city (19.2%), the negative financial and economic impact from paying higher rents, the costs of moving home, and employment costs of long-distance commuting and possible unemployment (32.3%).
  • 19% of private tenants have experienced at least one eviction previously (some have had as many as four prior evictions). More than half of these evictions involved the landlord claiming they needed to repossess the property in order to sell it (51.2%) followed by claims they wanted to move themselves or family in (17.2%). 
    • Of these previous evictions, more than half (58.6%) had a negative impact on their mental health, led to them paying a higher rent on a new flat (52.8%), forced them to move out of their community (36.8%), led to moving into a worse quality flat (36.2%) and resulted in homelessness (35.1%).
  • 30.5% of these previous evictions involved the landlord giving reasons that turned out to be false, however, in almost all cases, the tenants involved did not take their case to a tribunal. The most common reason was that tenants did not want the added stress followed by a lack of confidence in the system, and a fear of ex-landlord retaliation.
  • 49.5% of private tenants have experienced a rent increase since January 2023. Just under three-quarters (73.5%) of these rent rises were limited to 3%, while the rest went up by an average of 25.7%. Higher rent increases were mostly due to landlords using loopholes in the rent cap, namely joint tenancy swaps as well as illegal rent increases following landlord pressuring a tenant.
  • 84.2% are concerned that their landlord will increase the rent when the rent cap ends on 31 March 2024 with the majority (59.2%) expecting it will go up by 10% or higher. 
    • More than 85% of renters concerned about their rent rising believe it will impact on their quality of life in various ways: 73.1% will have to cut back on non-essentials; 48.49% will have to cut back on essentials; 47.6% will be displaced from their neighbourhood or city; 36.9% might have to borrow money; 20.4% say they will be forced to move to another neighborhood; 27.2% say they will be forced to leave the city altogether; 25.7% will have to take on more shifts at work; and 25.2% will be forced to take a second job.
    • 73% of tenants said that worrying about rent increase has had an impact on their mental health (of which 46% said that worrying about rent increases has had a huge impact on their mental health).
  • 61% of private tenants have outstanding disrepair problems in their home, averaging more than two issues per affected tenancy; 13.7% of private tenants have between 3 and 7 outstanding disrepair issues. 33.7% of private tenants are living with an outstanding structural disrepair (e.g. ceiling, windows, walls, roofs) and 31.7% of private renters are living with damp and mould. Just under half of private tenancies with disrepair experienced a rent increase after January 2023, and almost all suspect their landlord will put the rent up after 1 April 2024. 
    • 99.1% of tenants with disrepair say it has impacted their mental health. 62.2% of tenants  with disrepair say it has adversely impacted their physical health. The vast majority of these health effects relate to respiratory (chest infections, asthma, colds, coughs, breathing) and skin conditions from the excessive cold, damp and mould issues tenants experience. 
  • 22.3% of private tenants  suspect or believe they have been unfairly denied a rental home in the past with their status as either a benefit claimant or immigrant being the two most frequent experiences.
  • 12.4% of private tenants told us that they had experienced specific barriers to renting in the past with being out bid by another prospective tenant the most frequent barrier mentioned, followed by the length of the social housing waiting list, the landlord/letting agent asking for three/six months rent upfront, not being able to provide a guarantor, and landlord ban on pets. 
  • 53.2% of private tenants have previously had to pay a deposit on a new home before having received their old deposit, while 58.9% have had to borrow money to pay for a deposit in the past.

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