Imagine living in nine different homes before the age of eight. Then picture attending two different schools in the first three years of your education with another school move looming because your landlord has defaulted on his mortgage and there is nowhere else to rent by your school. This is the reality for the daughter of one family Shelter has spoken to and this isn’t out of choice.
A new survey of 4,000 private renters, out today, shows quite starkly how the rental market is affecting family life. One in five families now rent and government research shows that renting families are nine times as likely to have moved in the last year as families who own their homes.
The results show that not only is moving expensive but it has a negative impact on children’s education and well-being:
The survey has also highlighted that families are struggling financially and that constant moves push families further into debt. More than one in five families have been forced to borrow money to pay their deposit and/or rent in advance. Thirty per cent of families in our survey had paid fees on top of this. The average amount paid out was £2316 – equivalent of around the average monthly income of private renters. A study by the Resolution Foundation found that even on one bed properties average fees, deposits and rent in advance came to £2166 in London.
One of the most striking findings is about why families rent. Sixty per cent of families rent because they cannot afford a home of their own. A persistent myth used to support the status quo – and one that refuses to die – is that renters won’t be there for long and like the freedom and choice renting gives them. Yet only 9 per cent of families stated they like the ‘freedom and flexibility’ renting brings – and this is only 14 per cent among households with no children.
With 43 per cent of families expecting to be renting for the next ten years and nearly one in four renters saying they do not or would not feel comfortable bringing their children up in private rented home, something needs to change. Families need a better deal from renting. Which is why Shelter is proposing the Stable Rental contract. This would give renters the option to stay in their tenancy for up to five years and guarantee that rents would rise by no more than CPI during this time – and 62 per cent of families support this.
It’s high time politicians improved life for the growing number of families who rent. This May, as part of its 9 million renters campaign, Shelter is calling for changes to the way renting works –www.shelter.org.uk/9millionrenters. The government must make renting better for the 1.3 million renting families in England.