Prevention in action

Improving rental housing

Conditions in the home can impact on safety and risk, especially where there are young children and the potential for overcrowding and lack of space. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has published a new POSTnote research briefing on the quality of housing in the UK private rented sector where many of the biggest child and family home safety challenges arise.

The briefing highlights the fact that the private-rented sector in the UK is growing but has worse housing conditions than any other sector. This has important implications for safety and health, especially for families with young children. Living in overcrowded housing negatively affects children.

Tenants may not feel able to request repairs and landlords may not know the standards that are required. Tenants may also experience problems and obstacles when it comes to fitting safety equipment or making adaptations which would help to minimise risk and injury for young children. Local authorities may lack resources to enforce housing standards.

Ways of implementing change and improving this situation include:

  • enforcing standards, including through better understanding of the requirements of Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
  • recognising the constraints on tenants’ choice, which may include affordability, local high demand, and fear of eviction
  • incentivising landlords
  • joint working at local level –  through housing, planning and public health, as well as front line health and social care practitioners

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