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Renting ‘torture’ as charity calls social housing provision ‘woefully inadequate’

Written by on 6 October 2020

Half of private renters do not feel safe or secure in their homes, and the pandemic is making their lives even harder, according to research.

The housing charity Shelter, says a “disastrous” lack of social homes has created a housing emergency, made worse by COVID-19.

It’s calling on the government to take action, to help those in poor housing.

According to YouGov polling carried out for Shelter, 25% of private renting adults – equivalent to 2.1 million people – said lockdown made their housing situation harder to cope with.

Krystalrose Shirley is a private renter, living in a small one bedroom flat with her two-year-old child.

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Krystalrose says damp in the one bedroom means she and her daughter stay mainly in the kitchen

She describes her life in the flat as “torture”.

She says there is mould growing up the walls, and little space for her daughter to play.

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She told Sky News: “I feel like I’m in a nightmare. I feel like I’m trying to escape and I don’t know what door to knock on, who to turn to, I just know I’ve got this little angel here and I’ve got to do whatever it takes to get her out of this mess.”

Krystalrose says moving into social housing would be a “dream come true”.

“That would be absolute security, and I wouldn’t feel like I’ve been thrown to the dogs. I’d feel like we’ve got a roof over our head that no one can take away from us. I’d feel safe and secure and complete.”

The charity Shelter believes the current provision for social housing is “woefully inadequate”.

Its survey of private renters found around a third (35%) were living in poor conditions, with electrical hazards or damp-related issues and almost one in five (19%) said they were struggling to pay their rent.

Shelter Chief Executive, Polly Neate, said: “The government’s current plans are only going to house 1 in 96 of the people on the social housing waiting list, and there are over 1.1 m people on that waiting list. It just simply isn’t enough, especially when you consider that this is a crisis that is going to get worse, not better.”

Shelter wants more homes built and more quickly than currently planned.

It is calling for a rescue package of GBP12.2 billion in investment over the next two years to fund 50,000 new social homes out of a total of 145,000 new affordable homes.

A government spokesperson said: “We do not recognise these figures. We’ve taken unprecedented action to protect renters including a six-month ban on evictions, as well as preventing people getting into financial hardship by helping businesses to pay salaries and boosting the welfare safety net by over GBP9 billion.

“Renters will continue to be protected through winter, including six-month notice periods and instructing bailiffs not to enforce evictions in areas of local lockdown – anyone now served notice will not have to leave their home except in the most serious cases, such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.

“Anyone worried about losing their home and not having anywhere else to go should speak to their local council, which has a duty in law to help prevent them becoming homeless.”