An unacceptable level of UK renters say that being stuck in the constant cycle of renting is having a detrimental effect on their mental health, with some going so far as to say it is contributing to depression.
UK house prices are high and supply is low. As such, an increasingly large number of people are renting for much longer periods of their life. It’s not a new problem for the UK. So-called Generation Rent, those people stuck in the rental market, unable to afford stepping onto the property ladder, has been spoken about and widely discussed in the media for years, but it’s the COVID-19 pandemic that has made the situation so much worse for UK renters.
Not only has the pandemic forced us all into a previously unknown kind of social isolation, but it has also forced house prices up while threatening job security and salaries. It has now been revealed that all of these factors are contributing to a significant number of renters now reporting increased concerns for their own mental health, saying that the renting experience is largely to blame.
Today, 4.4m private renters in the UK, 14%, or roughly 616,000 people, are “so distressed by their living situation they believe it is causing them symptoms of depression”, an increase of 50% since the start of the pandemic.
32% of renters say that the biggest contributing factor to increased depression is the distance between their home and their friends and family, due to many renters being unable to afford to live in areas they most want to.
23% say that their rented home is too small for the number of people living there while 22% say that the lack of security that comes with renting is most damaging to their mental health.
21% say that their landlord’s slow reaction to fixing reported problems is causing them mental distress, 21% say it’s the people they’re forced to live with that cause the most problems, and 20% say that low-quality finish of the home is a contributing factor to poor mental health.
15% of renters say that feeling unsafe in their local neighbourhood is their biggest concern, and 12% say the long distance from amenities is causing them the most problems.
The underlying problem is not that too many people are renting, it’s that the standard of rented living is not good enough. Tenants do not have enough security, and high rent prices mean they don’t have the ability to choose where they want to live. They don’t have the freedoms that enable us to make a house a home – decorating, pet ownership, etc – and they don’t have enough space to live in comfortably, instead stuck in cramped homes too small for the size of the family living inside.
The Conservative government, always the self-styled party of homeownership, wants us to believe that increased ownership is the only answer to these problems. But in truth, more needs to be done to make renting a fair, affordable, and freeing way of life. It has been achieved across much of Europe and Scandinavia, so there are no longer any excuses.