What makes a house a home? This is the question we’ve been mulling over with members of our private tenants forum for the last year or so. Whether we’ve been chatting to parents, to students, to child-free folk, to older people or to younger people, the same themes emerge time and time again. People want safe, secure, affordable homes within a community. They want their children to be secure, they want to be able to get to work, and they want to be able to visit friends and family.
But these themes are more than likes or hopes- they’re rights too. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention for the Rights of the Child both note the right to a decent standard of living (article 27 of the CRC) and adequate housing (Article 25.1 of the UDHR). We’re not just asking for homes then, we’re entitled to them.
As we know, home is much more than bricks and mortar- it’s the place we’re rooted to. It’s our schools, our doctors, our workplaces, our friends, our families. Whether it’s the local greengrocers or the bus route- our home is the anchor that enables us to live our lives.
When our homes are under threat, or when we feel unsafe or insecure, when we worry about how to meet next month’s rent, or what we might have to do without in order to pay for it; our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing suffers. Education suffers when children are forced to move from school to school because of short term rents, health suffers when poor conditions are allowed to flourish, mental health suffers when we’re forced to lose control over our own homes- whether it’s waiting for repairs to be done or having unexpected (and illegal) visits from landlords or letting agents. Housing is much more than buildings, it’s about people.
By taking what private renters have told us and applying it to how we talk to Government- we’re dedicated to making the private renting sector fit for families and fair for all. We’ve developed a range of activities for people to get involved in to help us do that; so whether it’s taking part in online discussions, joining one of our photography groups, working on an exhibition for our annual conference-we’ve been listening hard to hear your stories and help you to utilise the rights you’re entitled to. A good, safe, standard of housing.