‘I put off starting a family because of a £300 rent rise’

Chelsea recalls landlords proposing that she pay six months’ rent upfront to gain a competitive advantage.

“As a single mum, I was really on the back foot because I couldn’t offer that.”

Chelsea claims that as soon as she mentioned that she was a single parent, she was put on the backburner.

“I just wanted to put a roof over my kid’s head, and it was really hard.”

Balancing her job and motherhood was a constant struggle, she says. “Mentally, I was a wreck all the time. I’m a chef, so I would be standing at work, cooking, and I would just start crying.

“I’ve been a very successful chef in London, and here I was feeling like a complete and utter failure.”

She is now happily settled in Somerset, but that meant taking the difficult decision to leave London.

A spokesperson for the National Residential Landlords Association, told the BBC: “The ongoing shortage of rental homes in the market means that it can be very challenging for tenants to find a property to call home.

“There is, however, no reason why a rented property should not be a safe and secure home. It is in both landlords and tenants’ interests to sustain long-term, stable tenancies.

“The overwhelming majority of landlords are responsible providers of high-quality private rented accommodation who have a positive relationship with their tenants.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for housing, said the Tories have “failed to get a grip of” Britain’s “escalating housing crisis”.

“No one should have to put their life on hold due to unaffordable housing. Regardless of whether someone is a homeowner, a leaseholder, or a tenant, everyone has the basic right to a decent, secure, and affordable home. But if the Tories get back in, renters will remain exposed to spiralling costs, poor housing standards and the risk of homelessness from no-fault evictions”, she said.

A Conservative Party spokesman said they were committed to “creating a fairer market for renters”, for a more “secure future for the whole country”.

“Our plan to deliver the homes people need is working, building one million more homes since 2019 and increasing Local Housing Allowance by £800”, the spokesperson added.

For more on this story, listen to Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 at 10:00 BST on Tuesday, 28 May or catch up on BBC Sounds.

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