PRS not suitable for vulnerable people, report
The private rented sector (PRS) creates debt problems of such complexity that it isn’t suitable for housing vulnerable people, a charity has warned.
StepChange Debt Charity’s survey of its clients found that four-fifths rent, 40% of which are PRS tenants. And the PRS houses a higher proportion (29%) of those with an additional vulnerability, such as a physical or mental health problem, a disability or communication issues than any other tenures.
In its new report, ‘Locked Out’, StepChange says its findings show the PRS is not currently fit for purpose in meeting the housing needs of tenants with vulnerabilities and debt – and that a cross-department government review should be held to identify how the issue can be addressed.
The report’s author, Alison Blackwood, said: ‘While it may seem obvious that debt has a negative impact on people’s housing options, what may come as a surprise is the central position of the PRS in acting as the main source of housing for vulnerable people in problem debt.
‘While there is a regular policy focus on the need to increase housing supply, this alone will not tackle the complex and interdependent housing problems that financially vulnerable people face, especially in the PRS.’
Based on 816 responses, the charity’s survey found that 50% of its PRS clients believe their debt problem or a bad credit rating affected their ability to rent, with tenants often experiencing a ‘debt premium’ in the form of higher deposits and costs, and the need for guarantors.
Additionally, over 50% of PRS respondents said that debt issues and the dread of being unable to get another PRS tenancy meant they did not report problems to their landlords in case they were evicted.
The charity is recommending that the government undertake a full review of the PRS and its role in housing vulnerable people, including those who are financially vulnerable.