The health of one in five renters (22%) in England is being harmed by poor housing, according to research from Shelter.
Renters commonly deal with issues of damp and mould (26%), heating (26%), struggling to pay rent (21%) and fear of eviction (19%).
Tenants experiencing any one of these issues are three times more likely to say their housing situation is harming their health.
Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate, said: “The cost of poor housing is spilling out into overwhelmed GP surgeries, mental health services, and hours lost from work. The new Housing Secretary must get a grip on the housing crisis and tackle a major cause of ill health.
“Listening to the calls flooding into our helpline there is no doubt that health and housing go hand in hand. Yet, millions of renters are living in homes that make them sick because they are mouldy, cold, unaffordable and grossly insecure. The stress and suffering that comes with not knowing if you can pay your rent from month to month, or if you will face eviction is huge.
“The government can ease the pressure on renters’ health now by providing targeted grants to clear rent arrears built up during the pandemic, and by making good on its promise to reform private renting. But ultimately the housing crisis will never be cured until we build the decent social homes that more people need to live a healthy life.”
The government has attracted controversy by scrapping the £20 Universal Credit uplift, which is seen as one factor that could make it more difficult for renters in the month’s ahead.
Labour leader Kier Starmer accused the government of “turning on the poorest”, and said he would keep it as it is as Prime Minister.
Shelter also raised concerns about eviction notices returning to normal.
Vicki Nash, head of policy, campaigns and public affairs at Mind, said: ”Shelter’s worrying report shows the impact poor and unstable housing has on our mental health. Everyone deserves a safe, affordable, stable, and suitable place to live, not somewhere which makes us feel ‘hopeless’, and worsens our mental health.
“Social issues such as jobs, housing and benefits play a huge role in the nation’s mental health. Addressing the underlying causes of poor mental health can prevent people being pushed into poverty, allow people to live independently, and reduce the need for more intensive support further down the line.
“Never has this been more important, the pandemic has intensified our mental health crisis, with 1.6 million people waiting for mental health support or treatment. If the UK government are serious about ‘levelling up’ and reducing inequality they must sort out the housing crisis, reverse the £20 cut to Universal Credit and increase the rate paid for other disability benefits.”