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Families with children hit by insecurity in the private rented sector

3 January 2017

Two in 5 (39%) people living with their children in privately rented homes have a tenancy of 6 months or less, new figures from Citizens Advice reveal.

Analysis by the national charity finds 1 in 3 (34%) private renters would like their tenancy to be longer, rising to 2 in 5 (39%) amongst those with children. This amounts to almost 1.5 million households in England who need more security that they’ll be able to keep living in their own home.

In recent years there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of people bringing up children in privately rented accommodation, with families making up almost 4 in 10 private rented households. But the private rented sector has many pitfalls - last year nearly 75,000 people in England turned to Citizens Advice for help with a problem relating to a privately rented home including repairs and maintenance, problems with letting agencies and evictions.

Based on a YouGov survey of over 2,000 private renting adults in England the research shows many families are feeling insecure in their home. Of private renters with children living with them:

  • 3 in 5 (59%) said knowing they may be asked to move out at short notice made it difficult to plan for the future.

  • Over a third (35%) thought that if they were asked to leave their property their current notice period would not give them enough time to find somewhere else to live.

  • Almost half (46%) said they would prefer not to move between properties as often as they do.

The figures also reveal 4 in 5 (79%) private renters with children have experienced problems with the quality of their home including rodent infestations, broken heating, and no hot water:

  • Over half (52%) had experienced problems with damp or mould

  • Almost 3 in 10 (28%) had windows or doors which didn’t lock properly

  • 1 in 5 (20%) had faulty wiring.

While in many of these cases the landlord addressed the problems within month, in over a quarter of instances (27%) the problem took longer than this to resolve. And where these renters had spent their own time or money fixing a problem, half (50%) were not refunded for this by their landlord.

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said:

“The challenges of living in the private rented sector can be even more acute for people with children.

“Families are living under a cloud of uncertainty - not knowing when they might need to leave their home. This can make planning for the future, such as where your child can go to school, a real struggle. Many families who are now enjoying the Christmas break may have to move out of their home before the summer holidays start.

“With home ownership on the decline the private rented sector in England is in need of a major overhaul. While there are signs of progress - such as the ban letting agent fees - action is needed to improve security of tenure for private tenants as well as the quality of private rented homes.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.