Half of all private renters in England felt unsafe in their homes during the Coronavirus lockdown – and a quarter said their housing situation had made coping with lockdown harder.
That’s according to a poll commissioned by Shelter, which also found more than a third (35%) of private renters were living in poor conditions such as those precipitated by electrical hazards, pests, and damp.
One in five private renters were struggling to pay their rent or had already fallen into arrears.
Shelter commissioned the polling as part of research for a report that warns that the impact of the COVID-19 health emergency on people in poor accommodation has intensified the housing crisis in England.
A long-term trend of low-income renters has meant an more people living in unfit homes they can barely afford, the charity said.
The YouGov poll – of 5,177 adults between 4 and 7 September – found 56% of private renters experienced an issue with the condition of their home during lockdown.
15% said they experienced a housing maintenance issue that caused stress while confined to their homes.
44% of private renters said their home had less space than they needed, 29% of whom said this made lockdown harder – compared with 29% and 15% respectively of the overall number polled.
Krystalrose, a 26-year-old single mother, described how the damp in her one-bed flat in Enfield, east London, was destroying her and her baby’s possessions.
“It’s spread to other walls, into my daughter’s cot, it’s ruined her toys, her clothes, the sofa – we’ve lost so much,” she said.
“I suffer with anxiety and depression and living like this during lockdown has made it more difficult as we are at home constantly.
“I am also asthmatic and breathing in mould all day is not helping.
“It’s awful for my daughter too – she is very young, and I worry what this is doing to her lungs.”
‘Trapped in private rentals’
Shelter is urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to fund 50,000 new social homes – around four times the number of social homes currently delivered each year.
“Funding this programme could kickstart the post-COVID recovery and reverse years of decline in social housebuilding,” the charity said.
Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate added: “Millions have spent months trapped in private rentals they do not trust to keep them safe, and right now, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
“After decades of decline, a dire lack of social homes means too many people pay too much for cramped and poor-quality housing – or, worse yet, they find themselves with nowhere to live.
“With the stakes so high, the case for building decent social homes is clear.”
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