There are 4.4 million privately rented "households" in England. Those who have bad experiences of such renting may "find it contributes to serious illness, financial issues or homelessness...The proportion of households in England living in privately rented accommodation has approximately doubled in the past 20 years, and the sector faces several challenges:
On average, private tenants spend more of their income on housing (32%), compared with those living in their own properties (18%) or social housing (27%).
The market is increasingly populated by low-income groups, benefit recipients and families, whose access to other housing options may be limited.
In around 29,000 instances in 2019-20, households were, or were at risk of being, made homeless following an eviction that was not their fault.
Many local authorities face funding pressures, which can constrain their ability to check properties proactively for non-compliance and therefore places greater reliance on tenants being aware of their rights and reporting problems".
As the NAO chart shows (p16) what this means is renters in the private sector can suffer harassment, live in dangerous properties, face financial exploitation, receive poor service, unaffordable rents and be completely insecure. Ironically to use a phrase loved by the Tories about Social Housing it is increasingly the "tenure of the last resort".
While there are many good landlords who offer and maintain quality homes for rent they are often under cut by bad landlords.
What we need is not only greater regulation but for this to result in a shift in the power relationship between landlords and tenants. To do that we also need effective and independent renter unions.
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