Publications

Housing and Homelessness

A nation of renters: How England moved from secure family homes towards rundown rentals

Commissioned by: Citizens Advice

  • Published 21st May 2015
  • Authors: Hannah Aldridge,
  • Category: Housing and Homelessness

This report explores how renting in England has changed dramatically in the past few decades with the number of households living in the private rental sector doubling in the last ten years.

It also finds that over a million families are raising children in a privately rented home, treble the number a decade ago.

The report also assesses the physical state of private rental properties in England and quantifies the true cost of privately rented homes. Finding that: 

  • One in six privately rented homes in England (16 per cent) are physically unsafe – far higher than the 6 per cent in the social rented market. 740,000 household live in these homes.
  • Half a million children are living in unsafe private rented homes.
  • These homes have Category 1 hazards which can include severe damp, excessive cold, rodent infestation and risk of falls.
  • Rogue landlords are receiving £5.6billion a year for unsafe homes, 1.3bn of this is paid from housing benefit.
  • Private renters living in homes with a Category 1 hazard pay on average £157 per week on rent.

The report forms part of Citizens Advice's Settled and safe campaign for better protections for private renters. The campaign recommends that:

  •   Tenants should be entitled to rent refunds where properties are dangerous or not fit to live in.
  • A national landlord register should set up. This could help ensure landlords operating illegally cannot move to different areas to avoid legal action.
  • Councils should also consider setting up local licensing. This will help to ensure landlords are providing the quality of housing and service the area needs and help to ensure tenants know what they can expect from a good landlord. 

The report is cowritten by NPI and Citizens Advice and based on NPI analysis of the English Housing Survey.