Uncertain rental market is damaging childhoods, claims new report

1 in 8 renting families "sofa surf" with family and friends while between homes

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The Independent Online

Families with children are bearing the brunt of insecure tenancies, high rents, and constant moves, claims the new report Growing Up Renting from housing charity Shelter.

Based on research with more than 4,000 private renters, the study found that one in 10 renting families have had to change their children’s school in the past five years because they moved from one rented home to another. In one case, an eight-year-old child had already lived in nine homes.

Moreover, 44 per cent of renting parents say that their child would have a better childhood if they had more stability in their home. Of those families who have moved home in the last five years, 13 per cent said that the move was stressful or upsetting for their children.

Nearly half of families in the report said they worried about their landlord or letting agent putting their rent up to a level they could not afford, while more than a quarter of renting families  have faced a rent rise in the past year. For one in 20 households this resulted in them moving out of their home in the last 12 months.

Around one in eight renting families reported having to sofa surf with family and friends while between homes.

As part of its ‘9 million renters’ campaign, Shelter is calling for the introduction of a more stable tenancy contract, preventing eviction for no good reason and capping rent rises so they are not inflation-busting.

"These stark findings prove that today’s volatile rental market is simply not fit for purpose," said Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb. "For the vast majority of renting parents, renting isn’t a lifestyle choice, yet for many it’s putting their children’s education, happiness and wellbeing in jeopardy. Unpredictable rents and short-term tenancies are not only failing to meet the needs of families, they’re doing real damage to children’s lives.

"The nine million renters in this country deserve better. It’s high time we faced up to the fact that renting is no longer a stepping stone, but the only long-term option available to rising numbers of families. We have to give children growing up in rented homes a better deal."