This POSTnote looks at the quality of housing in the private rented sector and explains the effects that housing conditions can have on health. It also looks at interventions to improve housing quality in the private rented sector and at the challenges to implementing them.Jump to full report >>
The private rented sector is growing, with around 17% of UK households renting privately in 2016 compared to 11% in 2006. Private renters also live in worse housing conditions than owner-occupiers or social renters.
Poor quality housing can affect physical health and mental wellbeing throughout life. Physical housing conditions (e.g. cold, damp and fall hazards) can have an impact, as can insecure or unaffordable housing.
Studies have looked at the effectiveness of specific housing improvements and have found some evidence that energy-efficiency improvements, tackling allergens and reducing injury hazards can improve health and wellbeing. However, it is hard to determine the effectiveness of specific housing improvements because poor housing is linked to other factors that affect health.
Tenants’ choice of housing can be constrained by affordability issues and fear of eviction. Landlords may not understand the standards that are required of them. There are also concerns that local authorities lack the resources to enforce these standards.
Suggested interventions to improve conditions include incentivising landlords to make improvements and encouraging joint-working between housing, planning and public health professionals at local levels.
POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:
* Denotes external reviewers of the briefing.
Authors: Cassie Barton; Caroline Kenny
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.