Renting linked to poor mental health: 5 tips to get on the property ladder

Mature woman with headache at home

Renting a home is the new normal for a growing number of people in the UK. But far too many renters are living in conditions that are negatively affecting their mental health and even their physical health. This is according to a new survey from Shelter that shows that the health of one in five renters in the UK is being harmed by poor housing.

Here is a full breakdown of Shelter’s findings and five tips on how to get on the property ladder.

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How is renting affecting people’s mental health?

According to Shelter, 22% of renters in England (1.9 million households) say their mental health is being harmed by subpar housing.

The survey by Shelter found that some of the most common issues affecting the mental health of renters include:

  • Damp and mould (26%)
  • Being unable to heat their home properly (26%)
  • Struggling to pay rent (21%)
  • Fear of eviction (19%)

Renters experiencing any of these issues, according to Shelter, are three times more likely than renters who are not to claim that their present condition is badly affecting their health.

In a separate poll of private renters, 39% of respondents said that housing problems or worries left them feeling stressed and anxious. A further 22% said that housing issues or worries made them physically unwell. And 21% said that their performance at work had been negatively affected by housing issues.

As a result, it’s unsurprising that many people are keen to leave renting behind and buy their own property. 

How can you increase your odds of getting on the property ladder?

There are several benefits to homeownership that can contribute significantly to good mental health.

For example, since homeowners are free to make improvements to their homes, they can improve their quality of life and their mental health.

Furthermore, studies show that homeownership may improve your health by giving you a sense of physical and mental stability, control over your life and safety.

However, the prospect of homeownership is increasingly out of reach for many renters due to rising house prices and stagnant wages. 

If you are an aspiring homeowner, don’t lose hope. Here are five things you can do to boost your chances of getting on the property ladder.

1. Budget to save money

A budget can help you keep on top of where your money is going to see if there are ways to cut down on costs. There are loads of budgeting apps and tools to help with this particular task.  

And if you have problems committing to a regular saving habit, there are also tools that can do the job for you. Plum, for example, will examine your bank balance and spending habits to work out how much you can afford to save and then transfer it to your savings account automatically.

2. Make the most of government schemes and incentives

The government has set up several schemes and incentives to help more people get on the property ladder. For example, aspiring homeowners can save into a Lifetime ISA and receive a free government bonus of 25% (up to £1,000) a year to use towards buying their first home.

Other schemes that buyers can take advantage of include the Help to Buy: Equity Loan and the mortgage guarantee scheme. Both of these schemes can help buyers get on the property ladder with just a 5% deposit. A full list of the schemes available to homebuyers is available on the gov.uk website.

3. Improve your credit score

A good credit score can help you qualify for a mortgage at a competitive rate. Some of the steps you can take to improve your credit score include:

  • Registering on the electoral roll
  • Paying your bills regularly and on time
  • Checking your credit report on a regular basis and correcting any errors
  • Reducing your credit utilisation ratio

4. Make your savings work harder for you

At a time when savings rates are still quite low, investing in stocks, particularly through a tax-efficient vehicle like a stocks and shares ISA, offers the potential to earn a much higher return on your money, particularly for aspiring homeowners with a longer time frame to work with.

However, keep in mind that stocks are volatile and you may get back less than you put in. Make sure that you analyse your investments carefully before you put your money into them.

5. Increase your income through a side hustle

Whether it’s driving for a ride-hailing service like Uber, doing some freelance work such as writing, or selling goods online, a side hustle is an excellent way to earn some extra income that could boost your savings.

The post Renting linked to poor mental health: 5 tips to get on the property ladder appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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