How renting in Greater Manchester is causing serious mental health problems

Research by homeless charity Shelter reveals thousands of renters across the region have been affected in the last year.

A third of private tenants across Greater Manchester are spiralling into a ‘vicious cycle’ of mental health issues because of the state of their homes, according to a shock report.

Research by homeless charity Shelter reveals thousands of renters across the region have been affected in the last year.

From issues with repairs, damp and mould to threats of eviction, scores of tenants are said to be suffering in silence.

Brenda Young, 70, a lecturer in health and social care, reached breaking point when she was evicted from her home after complaining about damp.

She said: “My marriage broke up and I ended up leaving the family home and being forced to rent with my daughter, granddaughter and my foster child.

“We found a lovely cottage, but realised it had a terrible damp problem. There was black mould in the bathroom.”

Brenda, a grandmother, who has three grown-up children and a foster daughter, said: “Mould kept growing on toys and shoes ended up with fur growing on them.

“It was unliveable and I was really concerned about there being spores in the air that were not good for our health.”

Brenda, from Manchester, said that despite contacting her letting agent and the homeowner – and promises the problem would be sorted – nothing was ever done.

The saga dragged on for months and she had to go to court twice.

Eventually Brenda was served with eviction papers. Meanwhile, she had spiralled into a deep depression.

She said: “I felt responsible for the family and keeping a roof over our heads. I blamed myself for the fact we were homeless and about to end up on the street.
“I kept telling myself I shouldn’t have complained about the damp. I was panicking as I was struggling to find a new home for us.

“I couldn’t sleep or eat. I wandered around aimlessly and couldn’t deal with everyday life.

“I used to work part time and I couldn’t go to work so I lost my job. I felt useless, a complete failure and didn’t know where to turn.

She added: “When I look back on that time, it’s just like a big fog to me. I was chronically depressed and it just felt like all the doors were closing in my face.

“But when I finally spoke to a Shelter adviser, I just broke down and sobbed because she was the first person who had asked how they could help me. It was the beginning of me taking back some control. I think about that call practically every day. All you need is someone to listen.”

Brenda is not alone.

Last month, the M.E.N. reported that 40 per cent of renters across Greater Manchester had experienced poor living conditions in the past 12 months.

Almost a third had reported issues damp or mould, while one in six had suffered or still had faulty electricity.

One in twelve complained of mice, cockroaches or other infestations.

Shelter Manchester manager John Ryan said: “Every day we hear from people who are at their wit’s end because they just can’t cope with their unstable, unliveable or unaffordable housing.

“From families worrying about falling behind on the rent to people struggling with the misery of raising children in a tiny, mouldy flat – people can feel completely overwhelmed.”

Manchester-based GP Dr Brian Perkins said he had seen first-hand the impact of poor housing on patients.

He said: “The high cost and poor quality of housing contribute to both creating and worsening mental health issues for many people in my experience.

“Paying high rents, unhelpful landlords and threat of evictions all add to the risk of increasing anxiety and depression.

“Patients frequently complain to me about their poor quality housing. I’ve seen the damp and mouldy interiors of some patients’ homes, and they are really quite unpleasant and not conducive to a happy family home environment.

“It’s a vicious cycle – when someone’s housing situation is poor, it can create mental health issues which then make it harder to pay the rent, and so the root causes persist.”

Read the full article here: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/property/how-renting-greater-manchester-causing-12942365

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