13 May 2024

New report highlights the financial and rent payment challenges faced by many social housing tenants

The ‘Holding on to home: tenant sustainment in social housing’ study team, which includes the Chartered Institute of Housing, have published a new report which presents the findings of a survey of more than 1,200 social housing tenants across England. Tenants of three case study landlords – East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Southern Housing, and Stockport Homes – were surveyed between April and June last year.

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • Most survey respondents were experiencing financial difficulties and labour market precarity, with a range of consequences including the accrual of rent arrears, taking on other debts, going without essentials, and using food banks.
  • The cost of living crisis has compounded social housing tenants’ financial precarity, with implications for tenancy sustainment.
  • There may be a significant cohort of social housing tenants who are ‘at risk’ of rent arrears but are not known to be at risk by the landlord. A small, albeit significant minority of tenants (9 per cent) were in rent arrears, but 70 per cent of all respondents (and 73 per cent of those responsible for paying all or part of their rent) reported difficulties paying their rent across a number of measures.
  • Linked to this point, rent arrears alone is a poor measure of whether tenants are managing their rent payments, so it is important that landlords have preventative measures in place to identify tenants who are struggling, and so need support, but who are not yet behind with their rent. There is, therefore, a need to rethink how we understand and measure ‘tenancy sustainment’.
  • The vast majority of tenants (93 per cent) did not find it difficult to communicate with their landlord about their rent. However, the survey results suggest that tenants who are in greatest need of contact with their landlord, may also be those who find it most difficult to engage with them. Anxiety and the stigma associated with financial problems appears to be at the heart of their reluctance to contact their landlord.
  • It is tenants’ financial circumstances and not how capable or motivated they are that is the key driver of rent arrears and difficulties paying rent.
Find out more and download the report

The report, along with an accompanying summary, can be downloaded here:

For more information about the ‘Holding on Home’ study, please visit its website: https://holdingontohome.org/