Migrant groups face obstacles in accessing safe and secure housing

Research conducted by Generation Rent has revealed shocking discrimination towards migrant communities while navigating the private rental market.

The findings, from a survey conducted with 126 migrant private renters living in Greater London and the Southeast, highlight the many inequalities, both individual and structural, which affect people born abroad living in the UK.

Migrants faced significant obstacles in accessing housing

  • 42% reported that they had struggled to find a landlord or letting agent to rent to them as a migrant.
  • 74% of migrant private renters had struggled to find somewhere affordable to rent.
  • 40% had struggled to find the money for a tenancy deposit.
  • 21% of migrant private renters reported that they had struggled to provide a valid form of ID when looking for somewhere to rent.

There is a lack of access to documents migrant renters are entitled to

  • 17% of all respondents reported that they had not received any of the documents they were legally entitled to in their current tenancy, with this rising to a shocking 24% amongst migrants of Colour.
  • 21% of respondents reported that they had not received their written tenancy agreement. Amongst migrants of Colour this rose to 29%.
  • Only 19% all respondents reported receiving a government How to Rent Guide, with this dropping even further to 11% amongst POC.

Exploitative and illegal treatment from landlords and letting agents

  • 30% of respondents had been threatened with an eviction, with this rising to 38% amongst POC.
  • 23% of respondents had been threatened with the refusal to do repairs.
  • 16% of all respondents stated that their landlord or letting agent had threatened them with an unaffordable rent increase, with this rising to nearly 23% amongst People of Colour.

Poor standards and prevalent disrepair in migrant renter households

  • 57% reported that they had experienced mould or damp, with this rising to 61% amongst migrants of Colour.
  • 1 in 5 respondents had experienced faulty electrics and 23% reported inadequate fire precautions.
  • Of those that had reported their most recent incident of disrepair to their landlord or letting agent, 51% stated that their landlord had not fixed the repair issue.

In a particularly harrowing account, one respondent, Peter*, recalled: “[The] landlord tried repeatedly to illegally evict with violence to force entry, once with the help of the police who smashed the door in and demanded to see ID in the hopes it would lead to an eviction without court.”

Experiences of temporary accommodation, especially amongst asylum seekers who had lived in Home Office provided accommodation, were also explored in the research.

Participants often stated that poor treatment and a lack of rights whilst living in temporary accommodation acted as significant barriers in accessing safe and secure housing in the Private Rented Sector.

One participant, Emiliano*, said: “Instead of being happy when you get granted [settled status], you may then just find yourself in trouble. Because they stopped giving you whatever they used to give before… And then, how are you supposed to start fresh? Because if you’re going to rent, you have to pay [a] deposit, you have to pay [the] first month of rent, or probably like three months in advance, because they want to make sure that you can afford that without no work experience. With no income, with no bank account, because you’re not allowed to have a bank account. How are you going to handle that?”

While navigating the housing available to them, migrant groups are fundamentally subjected to an exhausting, unsafe and vicious system, where they are disproportionately forced to bear the brunt of the worst of the housing sector.

The upcoming Renters (Reform) Bill must work to support all renters into safe and secure housing, and it is marginalised groups, such as migrant communities, who are most in need of this. The government must work to ensure that the Bill reaches through to migrant groups in order to bring an end to housing discrimination in the UK.

The government must also end the hostile environment policy, which is severely affecting migrant communities from being able to work, grow their savings, and access adequate housing in the private sector.

Read more about the findings of the survey here and the full report here.

Have you experienced discrimination as a private renter? Tell your story here.

And, sign up to our campaign to end housing inequality here.


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