Renting in crisis as cost DOUBLES and tenants face eviction leaving some suicidal

Tenants are being pushed to “breaking point” as unscrupulous landlords hit them with rent rises that make housing unaffordable in the cost of living crisis.

Homelessness charity Shelter found almost one in seven tenants had been told their rent was going to increase in recent weeks.

One in three are reported to spend at least half their income on rent, almost 2.5 million falling behind on payments, which is an increase of 45% since April.

With 4.4 million private renters and another four million in social housing the situation is leaving people across the country drained, exhausted and even on the brink of suicide.

Young people are affected particularly badly, a poll revealing almost a third felt they would be unable to pay rent or bills in the next three months, with 13% already in rental arrears.

Almost 70% of the private renters who were worried about paying bills said that the stress had affected their physical health. Of them, 91% said the strain had also affected their mental health.

The poll, for the documentary Help! My House is Disgusting, which is on Channel 4 tonight, surveyed 1,090 private renters, aged 18 to 34.

The programme is fronted by Kwajo Tweneboa, a housing campaigner who made headlines in 2020 after taking on one of the biggest social housing associations after his dad died of cancer living in squalid rental conditions.

Kwajo, 24, said: “With the news of the cost of living crisis, private renters in most of Britain are really finding it tough now. The cost of everything seems to be going up.

“The Government has said they will set a limit on how much social landlords can charge in rent to their tenants, but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for private tenants – they are simply on their own.”

According to the documentary, 50% of private renters aged 18-34 have experienced accommodation in dangerous disrepair.

Of those, 51% said they were stuck as they simply could not afford to move.

Tarun Bhakta, of Shelter UK, said: “The housing emergency that we’re living in has not been addressed.

“We haven’t seen anywhere near enough investment in building new social homes.

“We haven’t seen the regulations of the private rented and social rented sector to make sure the homes we are living in are a good standard.”

He said: “The private rental sector is far from the affordable, secure place that young people need to live in.

“It’s expensive, under-regulated and it is insecure as well because there is not the system in place in the private sector to hold landlords to account.”

The Mirror’s own investigation today lays bare the terrible situation which many renters have found themselves in, with bills soaring and very little help to be found.

Here, just a few of those affected tell their stories:

I work 60-hour weeks & am still struggling
The pressure to pay her bills left a mum working 60 hours a week feeling suicidal.

Warehouse worker Julie Snowball is just one of the many private tenants to have reached breaking point, saying working two jobs to make ends meet is just too much.

“I wanted to take my life. I had it all planned,” she says. “I wanted to make sure my daughters would be okay and a friend to take my dog.”

Sadly Julie, 58, who also takes on seasonal work at racetracks, remains in turmoil. She says: “What more can I cut down on? I don’t smoke, I don’t drink or socialise. My life now is to get up at five o’clock, get ready, go to work, then work 10 and a half hours a day. Get home and walk the dog. Make my tea then go to bed.”

Julie, from Runcorn, Cheshire, pictured, was forced out of her previous rental property when the landlord sold it. She now worries her new place will only be a short term solution.

“The council say, ‘We can give you a flat in Liverpool’”, she says. “But why would I go when my family’s here?”

I feel so helpless, stuck in this flat
A huge list of problems with his private rental flat, including a hole in the wall so large he could see into his neighbour’s flat, left 30-year-old Max from Chorlton, in Manchester, at the end of his tether.

He had to be signed off work, stressed out by issues that included structural cracks, damp, and flooding.

Despite his landlord making some repairs, Max, who has been renting with his brother for four years, says the cost of living crisis is now adding an extra layer of stress. And he is unable to find other accommodation on his £500 a month budget.

He says: “I am massively worried about the bills. My energy bills have doubled. I just feel really helpless.

“The extra sting is that, had our landlord maintained our property better we probably wouldn’t need to pay as much on those energy bills.”

We had to leave and make caravan a home
When their rent almost doubled, Lauren Collier and James Winterbottom knew they could never afford it.

But with two children, they had to find a solution and so they made a new home in a second-hand caravan.

The couple had spent seven years living in their two-bed terraced house in Leigh, Gtr Manchester, with Lilly, eight and James, four.

But last year their home was bought by a private rental company and the rent was set to soar from £368 to £700 a month. Lauren, 26, explains: “We got in touch straight away saying there was no possible way we could afford it and got a response asking if we were looking to vacate the property.”

So the couple spent £3,500 on their caravan. They save on gas, electricity, rent and council tax, with the daily cost of a campsite £6 to £25.

Lauren, who home-schools the kids so they can follow James’s work as a ceiling fixer around the country, says: “We are saving around £200 a week. It has been scary, but at the moment it is peaceful and calm. I don’t think we’ll ever look back.”