The private rental sector has come under attack for its conditions and costs to tenants in a report looking into health inequalities.
The report, by Professor Sir Michael Marmot - regarded as one of the country's leading experts on health inequalities - says: “One third of households in the private rental sector fall into poverty as a result of their housing costs. As housing costs have increased there is less to spend on other essential such as food, clothing and transport; this, and the stress of trying to pay housing costs, will have significantly worsened health for low income families.”
The report continues: “The increasing costs of the private rental sector have not only led to increased arrears for renters but also for record incomes for private landlords as a growing number of private renters receive Housing Benefit.
“Housing conditions tend to be worst in the private rental sector although there have been some improvements since 2010. Still in 2017/18 around 1.9m private renters reported an issue with condensation, damp or mould in their home and many more keep silent about these conditions as private landlords can evict tenants if they complain.”
The report - commissioned by the Institute of Health Equity - claims that widening health inequalities and deteriorating health observed over the past decade cannot be put down to one-off issues such as cold winters, nor wider problems such as social care.
Instead, it points the finger at "social and economic conditions, many of which have shown increased inequalities".
Marmot says that as a result a slowdown in life expectancy is more obvious in the UK than in most European and other high-income countries, apart from the US.
The government must tackle health inequalities "as a matter of urgency" and bring the level of deprived areas in the north up to the level of good health enjoyed by people living in London and the south, the report says.