Renters favour comfy cushions over neighbourly chats


Housing charity Shelter and it's partner B&Q release new insight into what makes a rented property feel like a 'home'

44% of renters in the South West – the equivalent of 214,000 people – say cushions and furnishings are key to settling into a new home, compared with only 12% (59,000) who say it’s speaking to their new neighbours, according to research by Shelter and B&Q.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the housing and homelessness charity and its partner B&Q, probed 489 tenants in the South West on their attitudes to home improvement and what makes a rented property ‘feel like home’.

On the question of DIY home improvement, a huge 61% (525,000) of renters in the region revealed that they want to personalise or improve their pad. And 42% of renters said they would feel happier in their home if they could decorate or improve it themselves.

Also high on renters’ lists in the South West for making their new place feel like home are:

  • Getting TV and internet set up (61%)
  • Putting your own pictures up (42%)
  • Making the bed with your linen (39%)
  • Inviting friends round (30%)
  • Having your first bath (13%)

The findings support the work of Shelter and B&Q’s new partnership, which aims to make home improvement accessible to all, including those in housing distress. As part of the partnership, B&Q will fund a team of six specialist Shelter DIY advisers located across the country to work with people at risk of losing their home, as well as those settling into a new home following a period of homelessness.

The advisers not only provide home improvement help, but train and equip people with basic DIY skills so that they can continue to maintain their own homes. The three DIY advisers already in post have successfully helped 173 people in the last three months alone to improve and keep their home. And the charity expects to help hundreds more in the coming months as the service expands with B&Q’s support.

Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said: “At Shelter we see first-hand through our DIY service how something as simple as a fresh lick of paint, or a cleverly placed set of shelves for a wheelchair user, can make all the difference in helping someone to settle into their home.

“Every day we speak to renters in the South West who desperately want their rented place to feel like it’s their own, and the simple fact is renters who are allowed some choice over how their home is decorated often feel much happier and more secure.

“Equipping people with essential DIY skills means they can create a real home where their family can put down roots and build a future. Thanks to B&Q’s support, we can now support many more people to improve their home so that they can stay there for the long-term.”

Helena Feltham, HR Director at B&Q commented: “There are over 5 million people renting in the UK who wish they could make improvements to their living space. For more than half, these personal touches would make them happier in the place they call home.

“As the UK’s leading home improvement retailer, we are committed to making home improvement accessible for all and that’s why we’re supporting Shelter’s DIY advisers. The help and advice they give to people in the community not only helps turn four walls into a home, but ensures they have the skills to create a home where they can put down roots, and build a future.”

Case Study: Brenda was helped by Shelter to find a new home after going through a divorce which resulted in her having to rent privately again. She spelled out the dilemma facing renters who can’t or aren’t allowed to refresh or improve their homes. 

Brenda said: “In a rented home you are always subject to somebody else’s rules. This was a real shock to me when I first started renting again after my divorce. You can’t make the place exactly how you want it, and there is such a huge difference between a place to live and somewhere feeling like your home.

“There are still some things that I wish I could do myself in terms of decoration. For example, all my walls are painted in magnolia, and I’d love to be able to add a little bit of colour if my landlord will let me. It’s only a small thing, but it would really help to make the place feel like home.”

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