Working in partnership to improve housing and health for Londoners

The housing system is failing in London, but community groups are working together to improve the housing and health of Londoners

Housing in London

Housing is a key issue for London, where the housing system is failing. Not only is this a problem of housing supply but also of the failure to make best use of existing housing.  Recently there has been legislative changes that reflect the real concerns about existing housing and the private rented sector.

On 20 March 2019 a new law came into force to make sure that rented houses and flats are ‘fit for human habitation’. This means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.  This new law, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, will help tenants and make sure that landlords have a duty to improve their property.

The impact of housing on health

The evidence that good quality housing is critical to health is well established (Public Health England 2017).  Last year, Shelter’s report [PDF] on the impact of housing problems on mental health shows that one in five adults have suffered mental health issues in the last five years, due to housing problems. More recently Healthwatch Hackney and City & Hackney MIND report [PDF] shows the clear link between homelessness and mental health.

Adults in London who have had mental health problems due to housing pressures

Percentage of all adults in London who have had a housing problem in their lifetime, who said it contributed to mental health issues (Shelter, 2017)






Civil society working together

In Bromley, the local CVS (Community Links Bromley) brought together:

  • AgeUk Bromley & Greenwich
  • Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich MIND
  • Citizens Advice Bromley
  • Bromley Council
  • Radcliffe Housing Society
  • Thackray Williams LLP Solicitors

This consortium developed the tenant and landlord toolkit to support residents in the private rented sector.  As a group of organisations they recognised the importance of joint working across statutory, community and business sectors to enable better tenancies and better mental health for residents across the Borough.

A similar project has taken place in Brent, but this time initiated by the local authority who has developed a Private Rented Sector Community Champions Programme. This programme builds a network of ‘community champions‘ to provide key information to tenants and landlords in the private rented sector. The aim of this is to improve private tenant housing conditions in their communities.

A third example of the connection between housing and health is the Environmental Justice Project in Camden, is collaboration between:

  • Voluntary Action Camden
  • Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum
  • University College London
  • The Environmental Law Foundation

The purpose of the project is to strengthen the voice of local people who want to address the negative impacts of construction and development on their health and well-being. The information generated by this project is expected to be of value to communities affected by intensive building development. In the Euston Area, the emerging Action Plan reflects a determination to influence policy at local and London level, facilitate legal protections on green spaces, and ensure that cumulative impacts of development are transparent and managed so that community health improves. Some of the actions are already projects in progress.

London Plus is developing a project on community land use and advocacy, if you know of a community group that is helping to develop land or advocate for better housing and community spaces for Londoners, please get in touch.