Renting And Pretty Damn Stressed Right Now? You're Not Alone

New data reveals tenants are more than twice as likely to show key anxiety indicators than homeowners.
Olga Rolenko via Getty Images

It’s pretty tough for most people in the UK at the moment – we’re teetering on the edge of a recession and the cost of living is soaring.

And, if you’re a renter, you’re likely to be even more stressed, according to new findings from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) think tank.

In a new report aptly called Anxiety Nation, it uncovers how those with fewer savings experienced much more distress than those who saved enough – a problem renters in particular face.

JFR found that among all the key signs associated with anxiety, renters scored significantly higher than homeowners.

These were:

1. Losing sleep

2. Being unable to make decisions

3. Under strain

4. Depressed

5. Feeling worthless

6. Lacking happiness

7. Achieving less

8. Taking less care

9. Downhearted

10. Social life suffering

11. Lacking calm

12. Lacking energy

For 10 of these 12 indicators, renters flagged these signs more than twice as often than their home-owning counterparts. Only in “lacking calm” and “lacking energy” was the gap not quite as wide.

As the think tank pointed out, “given that renters are, on average, a younger group,” it’s “striking” to see indicators such as lacking in energy being higher among tenants than homeowners.

Why is renting so much more stressful?

Economic strains

On the surface, it may look like the recent economic chaos in the UK would leave homeowners struggling more.

The Bank of England recently raised interest rates, meaning new mortgage deals would cost more – affecting those looking to purchase or those about to move onto a new deal.

But, this includes renters who were considering moving onto the property ladder, who now can’t due to the climb in prices.

JFR noted that the number of working-age adults in the UK who were “buying with a mortgage” fell by 13 points between 2000 and 2002 – and suggested most of these people were now renting instead.

The Resolution Foundation also reported in 2019 that the rates of homeownership among young adults is half what it was the previous generation.

And, as JRF warned, landlords could easily pass on the rising costs homeowners are facing right now, as private tenants have uncapped rent.


There is a risk for renters that they could be kicked out of their homes at any moment, with just two months’ notice, under a section 21 eviction – this means landlords would not have to have a good reason for booting tenants out.

Landlords could also ask for higher rent out of your budget because there is no limit on what they can charge, and – to top it off – there’s no obligation for your landlord to fix any issues with your home quickly.

JRF pointed out that private rented sector has double in size since 2000, which the foundation describes as “one of the greatest engines of insecurity in our time”.

How can it be improved?

The think tank has called for the government to include more help for people on lower incomes in the upcoming financial statement.

It’s also not yet clear if chancellor Jeremy Hunt will agree to raise benefits in line with inflation. If he decides not to, this would result in a real-terms cut.

A JFR fellow and the co-author of the report, Tom Clark, said: “Too many people are caught up in a vicious cycle in which mental distress impedes confidence, leading to problems at work, which can in turn lead to issues with debt, housing and even relationship, leading to still more work.

“The government needs to wake up to the reality of the twin problems of insecurity and anxiety, which are doing great harm to both national economic welfare and individual wellbeing.”

The think tank wants private renting to be shored up too, including passing a ban on no-fault evictions (section 21 notices) which levelling up secretary Michael Gove has promised after Liz Truss considered dropping it.