Briefing: Shut out

By: Heather Spurr  Published: June 2017

A total of 4.5m households now live in privately rented housing. Over the last 20 years, the private rented sector has seen considerable expansion. But the evidence suggests that even at a time of significant growth, this sector has become more difficult for low-income households to access. Many families find they cannot afford a privately rented home, or encounter landlords unwilling to let to housing benefit claimants. This briefing provides ways that the Government and others could take action to dismantle these obstacles and bring down homelessness.


A growing number of low-income households are struggling to access private rented housing. This is fuelling homelessness, as increasing numbers of people are forced to to seek help from their council. Meanwhile, growing numbers of families are trapped for years in temporary accommodation because local authorities struggle to secure housing for them. And many low-income tenants have no choice but to accept poor conditions and bad landlords.

This briefing sets out the main barriers to low-income households accessing the private rented sector. It examines the wider housing market context, affordability and Local Housing Allowance rates, the attitudes private landlords have towards low-income tenants, and the upfront costs and additional hurdles that bar tenants who might have been able to afford ongoing rents. The briefing examines what current schemes are in place to assist people into accommodation and sets out recommendations for change. It is based on a review of current literature and interviews with advisers at Shelter advice hubs all over England to understand what is going on in different areas of the country.


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