Tenants in some areas almost twice as likely to live in unfit housing.

Data analysis shows Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West have the worst housing conditions in England

Today, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, was challenged to give stronger backing to local councils in their efforts to make private landlords comply with housing and health regulations. Data highlighted today by People’s Health Trust shows the scale of health risks in rented homes in two English regions.

Tenants in parts of England can be almost twice as likely to live in housing conditions that do not meet the decent homes standard than tenants in other regions. They also face some of the worst rates of damp and mould, data highlighted by the health equity charity People’s Health Trust shows.

Yorkshire and the Humber has the worst conditions in England with almost 40 per cent (37.7 per cent) of private rented homes failing to meet the decent homes standard, almost double the latest national figure of 21 per cent in England overall.

The North West of England has the second worst rate with 33 per cent of private rented homes failing to meet the basic level of decency, over ten per cent higher than the latest national figure and more than double the rate in the South East of England (16.2 per cent).

Tenants in Yorkshire and the Humber also face the worst rates of damp and mould in the country – 23 per cent of private rented homes in the region compared to nine per cent overall. More than one fifth of England’s serious damp problems are in private rented homes in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Unfit housing conditions are a threat to tenants’ health. Damp and mould can worsen asthma, cause heart attacks, cause poor mental health and are particularly harmful for already vulnerable people. The Decent Homes Standard imposes a minimum set of requirements that homes need to meet to ensure they do not harm the health of tenants.

The government’s Renters Reform Bill proposes to extend this standard to private rented homes, however many English local authorities don’t have the resources to conduct inspections of private rented properties. Analysis from the LGA suggests that councils in England face a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years meaning areas such as housing enforcement are at risk of underinvestment. With adequate resourcing, local enforcement teams can conduct more proactive inspections. This would reduce the disproportionate burden on tenants to ask for repairs and the application of housing laws to their home, which can put them at risk of eviction or legal proceedings.

People’s Health Trust is calling on Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State, to introduce stronger housing enforcement measures. These measures could provide sufficient resourcing to enable local authorities to comprehensively carry out their own inspections or provide more tools to allow local authorities to bring in funding to support enforcement locally.

People’s Health Trust has been supporting people in disadvantaged communities across Great Britain to reduce health inequalities for over a decade. One of its current priorities, Homes for Health, provides funding, resources and training to support improved conditions for tenants.

People’s Health Trust’s Chief Executive John Hume said:

“Too many families are living in appalling conditions which seriously impact their health and shorten their lives, often with little control over when or if repairs are made. Over one in five private rented homes are not up to standard – that’s over a million households living with damp, mould and other serious hazards affecting their physical and mental health.

“Ultimately it is the Secretary of State’s responsibility to ensure that local authorities are properly resourced to be able to provide a robust enforcement service in order to ensure that the health of millions of children and adults is not compromised because of rogue landlords. At a time when the NHS waiting lists are bulging, ministers should be tackling housing as one of the roots causes of preventable illnesses.”

People’s Health Trust is calling for the government to implement a clear and properly resourced strategy for housing enforcement which would help support a functioning private rented sector that provides people with the decent homes they need to improve their health and wellbeing.


Notes to editors

1. Media Enquiries

For media enquiries please contact Bradford Watson – press@peopleshealthtrust.org.uk / 020 4548 0940

2. Data - The latest English Housing Survey headline report was released in December 2023 and covers national changes in housing conditions between 2022 and 2023. All national data from England is drawn from these findings.

The latest breakdown of regional housing data is the Government’s English Housing Survey 2021 to 2022: private rented sector report which covers regional changes in housing conditions between 2021 and 2022. All regional data, including data on Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West of England, is drawn from these findings.

3. Category 1 hazards - Renters in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West of England can be almost three times more likely to live in a home with a serious hazard that can affect tenants’ health or threaten their lives, People’s Health Trust analysis shows

11.9 per cent of rented homes in England contain a category one hazard that threatens the health and potentially the life of its tenants. The North West outpaced this national average by double (20.9 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber by almost three times (30.6 per cent).

Hazards are rated for severity with category 1 hazards presenting the biggest risk to tenants’ health and potentially threatening their lives.

4. Homes for Health is a collaboration between the Trust and experts from housing, community, and racial justice civil society organisations, delivering projects that respond to the growing problem of unfit private and social rented homes and their effects on tenants’ physical and mental health. At the centre of the work are marginalised people whose intersecting identities make them more likely to be affected.

Homes for Health is supporting ten projects across Great Britain. Projects began in late 2023 and are expected to run for 21 months.

5. People’s Health Trust is a health equity charity with over a decade of experience supporting disadvantaged communities across Great Britain to reduce health inequalities.

We provide funding and support and use evidence and learning to influence change.

Since 2011, People’s Health Trust has distributed £130 million to 3,557 local projects reaching 748,000 people, through money raised by The Health Lottery.

6. People’s Health Trust’s Community Manifesto for Health Justice sets out priorities for the next government to address health inequalities. Achieving safe and decent homes which improve health and prevent long-term harm is essential to reducing the widening gaps in health between advantaged and disadvantaged communities.