People who rent their homes for longer have more symptoms of depression and lower levels of well-being, according to a university study.
A team of researchers from The University of Manchester has found that buying a house offers psychosocial benefits in terms of long-term security that renters don’t enjoy.
To get a picture of how today’s renters may be affected by not owning their home, Dr Bram Vanhoutte and his colleagues looked at the ‘housing careers’ of 7,500 people in England aged 50-plus. They found that renting for longer - or owning property for shorter periods of time - is linked with more symptoms of depression and lower subjective quality of later life. While about 22% of those surveyed always owned their own home, 14.5% rented for all of the first 50 years of their life.
The research paper ‘Duration, timing and order: How housing histories relate to later life well-being’ reveals that how long people are in rented accommodation can expose them to more risks in terms of health and well-being because their quality of housing is lower.
Those reported to have the lowest well-being were seen to be socially downwardly mobile or at least not sustaining their social status, growing up in a privately owned house but renting for the rest of their lives.
In contrast, those with the highest well-being were born abroad and bought their own homes early in adult life.
10 types of ‘housing careers’
Source: The University of Manchester, July 2017
More affordable housing needed
Given that renting for life is becoming much more prevalent, the researchers conclude that building affordable housing in the UK should now be a priority.
Dr Vanhoutte says: “Tenure is important not only in the here and now, but has long-term effects on well-being. For older generations renting for longer is linked with lower well-being in later life, underlining the need to increase the availability of safe, affordable and high-quality housing for the many. Housing policy now will have a tangible influence on people’s well-being in the future.”