Survey Finds 43% of Renter Households Are Worried about Their Home Conditions

A recent analysis by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University explores the findings of a 2021 survey on renters’ concerns regarding how their homes impact their health. The most common causes of renter concerns were air quality, pests, flooding and mold, and water quality. The survey finds that many rental units do not have infrastructure to alleviate residents’ concerns and that few tenants trust their landlords to handle such concerns.  

Older and lower-income renters were more likely than renters overall to express housing health concerns. Among concerned renters, indoor air quality was the most common cause for concern, with 54% of renters reporting it as a cause for concern. Other common concerns included pests (36%), flooding and mold (32%), water quality (32%), and structural safety (24%).

Despite widespread concerns from renter respondents, many respondents do not have the infrastructure to address their concerns, nor do they trust their landlords to respond to their concerns. The survey asked renters which healthy housing features they did not currently have but wanted. Common features tenants wished they had included noise insulation (54%), water filtration systems (47%), and air filtration systems (44%). Only 18% of renters with concerns were very confident that their landlord or property manager would take action to prevent their units from negatively impacting their health, while 40% reported having no confidence in their landlord or property manager to address these concerns.

The report notes that deferred maintenance of housing during the pandemic puts the current rental housing stock in danger of further deterioration, despite healthy homes being essential for tenant well-being. Public investment in housing should prioritize basic health and safety features in addition to affordability to ensure healthy homes for renters.   

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