There are three possible factors that are forcing many renters to live in dilapidated flats. The decrease in social housing is one of these, and the other two are insufficient housing benefits and high rental charges. People are now living in unsafe conditions typically caused by defective central heating systems, dampness, and mould. This is despite yearly increases on rent.
In a 2017 video report by The Guardian, they interviewed two young mums who were part of 84 self-declared homeless families that expressed their frustration with how the councils put them in a temporary housing block that was once an industrial estate. The buildings have a number of disrepair issues, from the stench coming from two nearby wastelands, a water supply that allegedly causes rashes, and a defective alarm system.
Additionally, a not-for-profit organisation that supports individuals or families encountering disrepair in home issues carried out several case studies that involved different scenarios of housing emergencies. A private renter and her husband felt trapped because their expensive rental bills did not allow them to save anymore. They wished for a home where they can feel safe and secure without having to move flats constantly due to Section 21 evictions. This set off the wife’s anxiety disorder and caused distress to her son who has autism.
In more research, the organisation asked 13,000 respondents about the latter’s housing experiences and issues they encounter in their homes. They found that 17.5 million people are greatly affected by the housing emergency, with the situation being more severe in London. This number increases to 22 million when we factor children into the equation.
The affordability crisis of rental homes begins with private rents in London increasing by a third between 2008 and 2019, with the average private renter spending 57% of their income on rent. The initial purpose of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) was for it to be comparable to the cheapest 50% of market rents. Deteriorating housing benefit levels have worsened the crisis, making much of the city unaffordable for low-income residents.
Through government policy, the housing benefit was meant to reflect the thirtieth percentile of market rents in any given location. London, however, is an exception. In reality, even the cheapest 10% of private rents in the capital are no longer covered by 69% of LHA charges. This means beneficiaries of the housing aid would have to struggle to fill the variance between their rent and the actual amount they get from the government.
The study did not only target the affordability crisis but also focused on two other factors that determined if renters were provided with safe and secure homes. These factors are:
1) The renter experienced any discrimination due to race, sexuality, gender, or disability
2) Whether the renter’s home is fit for habitation.
According to the Department of Work and Pensions’ Family Resources Survey for 2019-2020, disability affects 22% of the UK’s 67.9 million population. Some four and seven-storey buildings would have malfunctioning elevators without accessible ramps or other means for disabled tenants, who should be assigned to ground-floor units, to get to their higher-floor apartments.
In the report, a 22-year old who has cerebral palsy found it difficult to make it to work on time frequently as her wheelchair is too big to move around the room. She is slowed down by having to rely on her crutches when she needs to go to her bathroom from her bedroom.
This is not an uncommon instance in the UK where 93% out of the 8.5 million rented homes are not accessible to persons with disabilities. The shortage may be due to the fact that the UK does not, in any way, have a commitment to providing such wheelchair-friendly properties.
One of the case studies involved a 27-year old single mum who lived in a privately rented one-bedroom home in London with her daughter. Despite paying a high rent for the flat, the dampness of the unit had them sleeping out of bags while mould continued to ruin her daughter’s clothes and bed. Her health was compromised as well, with her asthma aggravated by all the spores she breathed in from the mould around their home.
Tenants have legal rights to protect them as much as landlords have responsibilities to fulfil. The Housing Act of 2004 protects tenants through assessments on building and structures for health and safety risks. The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 lays out what landlords need to provide to their tenants including, in general, a safe and habitable home free from housing disrepair issues like mould, damp, leaking roof, or cracks in walls. A home renovation must be done; otherwise, tenants have the right to complain.
If you need assistance with your housing disrepair claims, contact the housing disrepair experts at disrepairclaim.co.uk. The solicitors can walk you through the compensation claims processes. They usually work on a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement meaning you does not have to think about using your rent budget to pay them.