Open Doors - Reducing Inequality in the PRS
Open Doors in an innoviate Big Lottery funded project in partnership with Tai Pawb and RLA. This blog is by Nazia Azad-Warren
Open Doors is an innovative Big Lottery funded partnership between Tai Pawb and the Residential Landlords Association. Its unique work in the private rented sector focuses on tackling inequalities and reducing discrimination through direct engagement with landlords and tenants, to ensure that the private rented sector (PRS) is a fairer place to live.
The rapid expansion of the PRS in the last decade has drastically changed the profile of the sector. No longer is the PRS only associated with young, mobile professionals and students but is now for many people, the only viable option for a home. Contributing factors to this have been a lack of social housing supply and people being priced out of homeownership. The PRS is now home to a wide variety of tenants with different ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures. Furthermore, legislative changes in Wales has meant that the PRS is being accessed by people with needs that would have traditionally been met by social landlords.
PRS tenants are generally a vulnerable group but within that we know that:
• 1 in 10 LGBT+ people in Wales felt discriminated against when buying or renting a home, (Stonewall Cymru, 2018).
• Research by Shelter (2017) found that homelessness amongst Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups is rapidly increasing. Affordability is a key issue with BAME groups more likely to be living in poverty than White households but also racial and religious discrimination still seems to be a key issue with a high proportion of those making letting decisions, allow prejudices and stereotypes to influence their decision making.
• There are strong indications that people with mental health problems sometimes face discrimination when trying to access PRS housing, and landlords require additional support to ensure that that tenancies can remain sustainable (Tyfu Tai, 2019).
• High numbers of migrants living in the PRS: 38% of those born outside the UK live in the sector compared to 15% of those born in the UK. 61% of those who have arrived since 2001 live in the PRS, (Census, 2011).
The above is not an exhaustive list but potentially enough to bring about conversation around how we tackle the equality issue within the PRS to ensure that everyone can live safely and securely within it. Understanding the wider barriers of minority groups of women in the PRS is essential when considering how the sector can play a vital role in ending violence against women.
Focusing on the PRS with an intersectional lens is important; understanding multiple layers of discrimination and the oppression that it results in, is necessary when looking at the wider concerns around women’s safety in the sector. By understanding the impact of issues such as having no recourse to public funds or lack of accessible housing, we can then work with specialist organisations such as BAWSO to ensure that the PRS is a safe place for minority women.