Only half of renters felt safe at home during lockdown

New research from Shelter has revealed that only half of private renters in England felt safe in their homes during the coronavirus lockdown.

The housing charity’s poll also revealed that a quarter of private renters said their housing situation had made coping with lockdown more difficult, with 35 per cent found to be living in poor conditions, with electrical hazards, pests or damp-related issues in their home.

Given the current coronavirus pandemic, Shelter says that one in five are struggling to pay their rent or had already fallen behind on payments. The charity warned that a long-term trend of low-income households renting from private landlords has meant an increasing number of people are in unfit homes that they can barely afford.

Shelter is calling for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to fund 50,000 new social homes – four times the number of social homes currently delivered each year.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “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.”

David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said: “While the impact of Covid-19 on the private rented sector is yet to be seen, what is clear is the desperate need for the country to build more social housing, which these findings show.  

“With more than one million households on council housing waiting lists, the Spending Review needs to give councils the powers and tools to get building council homes again, which would not only help to meet the government’s annual 300,000 housing target, but reduce homelessness, get rough sleepers off the streets and support people’s well-being. This includes reforming Right to Buy and allowing councils to keep receipts in full so they can replace any social housing lost, and being able to set discounts locally.”