Crisis and Shelter publish interim findings from Private Rented Sector research project
Crisis and Shelter have released interim findings from a three-year, Big Lottery Fund funded study into the experiences of homeless people who have been helped or resettled into the private rented sector (PRS).
The Sustain research study comes at a time when rising rents and falling benefit levels mean that housing will become less and less affordable for people on low incomes.
Changes under the Localism Act mean that from this summer local authorities will increasingly use private landlords to satisfy their legal obligations to homeless people. This means that people with limited, and often negative, experiences of renting, will be housed at the bottom end of what remains a largely unregulated market.
It is unknown whether private renting will be sustainable for people who have been helped into it after being homeless and while the interim report draws on just a third of the total data to be collected, emerging findings point to a number of issues.
Practical challenges people faced included budgeting and sourcing basic furniture and kitchen appliances such as fridges, freezers. and ovens.
One single person who had not previously lived in the private rented sector said:
‘... apart from just getting housing, there's lots of other things you need. Like there's nothing in the house. This is... unfurnished - I need a kettle and a microwave, and I have to arrange [for] all the furniture and everything - even the bed.'
People taking part in the study also reported experiences such as going without food while many people were worried that landlords would raise rents or evict them.
As affordability pressures and the ending of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy are key reasons for the loss of accommodation, stability is likely to be increasingly hard to achieve in the current housing market. In turn, for single people under 35 years old the changes in Local Housing Allowance rates are also likely to impact on affordability and stability with single people required to either top up their rents or move to rooms in shared accommodation.
The recommendations of the research project to be published in 2013 will focus on how to address barriers affecting housing stability and identification of the advice and support needs of people who are resettled into the private rented sector. The study will contribute to understanding links between housing and wellbeing.