‘Generation rent’ suffer mental health issues

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Rental agreement document, with keys and pen

Being forced to live long-term in private rented housing is impacting negatively on young people’s mental health, a new study has found.

The term ‘generation rent’ refers to the growing number of young people living in the private rented sector for longer periods of their lives, due to high house prices.

The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) study, by Dr Kim McKee (University of Stirling) and Dr Adriana Mihaela Soaita (University of Glasgow), highlighted issues in the private rented sector which are having a serious negative impact on the wellbeing of young people, and particularly those on the lowest incomes.

These include problems with insecure, expensive and poor-quality housing, which contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression among young people unable to realise their housing aspirations.

For those on the lowest incomes, these issues can even lead to people becoming homeless, The ‘frustrated’ housing aspirations of generation rent report found.

It makes six key housing policy recommendations, including a call for more affordable housing to be built – both for sale and rent. It also says tenants should be educated about their rights, and landlords and letting agents required to undertake training on their legal obligations and duties.



Head shot of Dr Kim McKee
Dr Kim McKee
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy & Housing
The poor experiences reported by the young people in this research is a sad reflection on housing in the UK today.

Lead author Dr McKee, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy & Housing at the University of Stirling, said: “The poor experiences reported by the young people in this research is a sad reflection on housing in the UK today. 

“Their negative impact on wellbeing, particularly mental health, underlines the need for urgent policy intervention to address the failure of the sector for lower income groups. 

“Put simply, for those in low paid and insecure work, social rented housing would provide a better safety net than the private rented sector. We need more social housing to be built, and to stop selling it off by ending the Right to Buy across the UK.”

She said while the situation was better in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK – as recent reforms have provided tenants with greater security of tenancy and more predictable rent increases – there was still more that could be done to improve the situation of Scottish tenants.

“Whilst the recent reforms to the private rented sector in Scotland are to be welcomed, they may not fully address tenants’ concerns about the affordability of private sector rents,” she said. 

“These findings are important in providing an initial evidence base regarding the impact of the new private residential tenancy in Scotland, as well as the ongoing consultation on reform to the private rented sector in England.” 

Background information

Media enquiries to Rosemary Free, Communications Officer, on 01786 466169 or rosemary.free@stir.ac.uk