Tenants in the private rented sector age biologically faster than homeowners, according to new research, which believes scrapping Section 21 will help reverse the process.
The impact of renting compared with outright ownership is almost double that of being out of work rather than being employed and 50% greater than having been a former smoker as opposed to never having smoked.
Findings in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health reveal that renting a private sector home, falling repeatedly into arrears, and exposure to pollution are linked to faster biological ageing - cumulative damage to the body’s tissues and cells, irrespective of actual age.
Numerous aspects of housing are associated with physical and mental health, including cold, mould, crowding and injury hazards, stress, and stigma, but exactly how they might exert their effects isn’t entirely clear, admit researchers at the University of Essex.
They took housing costs, payment arrears, overcrowding, historical housing circumstances and moving expectations into account as well as factors including nationality, education level, diet and smoking.
But the researchers add that biological ageing is reversible, highlighting the significant potential for housing policy changes to improve health.
They explain: “Policies to reduce the stress and uncertainty associated with private renting, such as ending ‘no-fault’ (Section 21) evictions, limiting rent increases, and improving conditions (some of which have happened in parts of the UK since these data were collected) may go some way to reducing the negative impacts of private renting.”
Dan Wilson Craw, deputy chief executive at Generation Rent, adds: “The government has a huge opportunity to improve renters’ health by passing the Renters (Reform) Bill, which will stop landlords evicting tenants without providing a reason, and make it easier to hold landlords accountable for the quality of their homes.”