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Private rental sector is 'broken' claims Shelter boss

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The PRS is “broken” according to Shelter, which claims lone parents are bearing the brunt of the housing crisis.

The campaigning group reports that one in seven lone parents who rent privately – more than 74,000 people – and their children are facing homelessness within weeks. It adds that one-parent families are far more likely to fall behind on their rent or face no-fault evictions than the wider population.

Chief executive Polly Neate explains that decades of failure to build genuinely affordable social homes has meant that competition for rentals is fierce and the barriers to finding and keeping hold of a safe home are higher than ever.

“Private renting is broken,” she tells The Guardian. “Wrangling runaway rents and soaring living costs, all while trying to balance childcare and work is hard enough for all parents, but it’s made more so if you have to do a lot of it on your own.

“The only real, lasting solution is to invest in truly affordable social homes with rents tied to local incomes. Until the government gets on and commits to that, more people will be forced to turn to our services.”

Heightened risk

Shelter says lone-parent families are at heightened risk of being made homeless because they are effectively being blacklisted from the rental market with discriminatory policies such as blanket bans on children or housing benefit.

A government spokesman explains that the Renters Reform Bill, which is currently going through parliament, will abolish section 21 evictions, delivering a fairer, more secure, and higher quality private rented sector.

He adds: “We have also announced a substantial increase in local housing allowance which will benefit 1.6 million low-income households by on average £800 a year from April 2024.”

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