7. Evidence related to security of tenure and wellbeing
Findings from evidence reviews and research studies undertaken in the UK (including Scotland) suggest that feelings of insecurity related to tenure have impacts on tenants’ health and wellbeing. Research notes that negative psychosocial effects of living in insecure and precarious (as well as unaffordable housing) impact on tenant wellbeing and mental health. These studies conclude that the negative impacts of housing insecurity are complex and affect tenants in several different ways, including by causing financial distress (including distress related to potential expenses related to moving); causing concerns over finding a new property; making it difficult for tenants to feel at home and connected to place when insecure; and by causing stress over the potential of being separated from local support networks; among other mechanisms.
While much of this research is qualitative and based on the lived experience of tenants (particularly those on a low income), a larger study that linked data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study to measurable health outcomes found that desire to remain in current home was one element that led to significantly increased levels of biomarkers associated with infection and stress.
In their interviews with tenants, McKee et al (2019) conclude that feelings of insecurity were commonly reported amongst those on low incomes, and it is reasonable to suppose low-income tenants are also most likely to be additionally impacted by the current cost of living crisis. Additionally, a 2018 report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on forced evictions in England and Wales concluded that “the experience of forced moves and evictions was extremely stressful for low-income households as they struggled to find alternative properties because they are often seen as undesirable by private landlords and are often unable to access social housing.”
Recent survey research carried out in 2021/2022 with predominantly low-income tenants in the PRS in Scotland undertaken by researchers on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Scottish Government found that 78% of surveyed tenants identified "feeling secure in my property” as one of the most important things to them when it came to their rented housing.
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