Rethinking housing to beat loneliness

  • 04th May 23
Housing To Beat Loneliness
Housing To Beat Loneliness

A new epidemic is sweeping the country and it’s time to take the matter seriously. A top health official in the US has told the BBC that he was among the millions of Americans who have experienced a “profound sense of loneliness,” that is as dangerous to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Where America leads, the UK usually follows and the health implications on feeling lonely is much more worrying than initial thoughts. Loneliness is reported to increase the risk of premature death by almost 30%. This is through health conditions including diabetes, heart attacks, insomnia and dementia. As well as poor physical health, loneliness can have a profound impact on life chances with research by the US Surgeon General revealing that lack of social connection is also linked to lower academic achievement and poorer performance at work. 

There has previously been research into why renters report feeling lonely more often than people who own their homes. Several reasons were cited including a lack of connection with the community. When questioned, those who never chat with their neighbours were more likely to feel lonely and the general lack of connection with other people plays a big part in loneliness.

Addressing the needs of people today and into the future is the Build to Rent sector, forward thinking development that addresses how we can live with one another in a much more friendly environment. As renting increasingly becomes the norm, smart design and planning will be needed to ensure people enjoy where they live and give them the opportunity to engage with their neighbours to feel less lonely.

The chronic shortage of good quality housing in the UK has led to a boom in Build to Rent. To support this rapidly expanding sector, Love to Rent, the first and leading digital marketing platform exclusively for the Build to Rent sector, has grown in popularity leading to the first Build to Rent Awards 2023. There are eleven categories to enter, including ‘Social Value Impact in BTR’, an award that will highlight organisations who have been bold in making sure that positive social value is at the core of the development, ensuring residents feel part of the community, thereby easing loneliness and feelings of isolation.

“This new research supports the conversations that the Build to Rent sector has been having for many years,” says Love to Rent Founder Anne-Marie Brown “Helping people to interact with their neighbours is not just crucial to their health, but it also affects their engagement in the workplace and wider community cohesion.”

The bedrock of Build to Rent developments is excellent communal spaces. This can be anything from co-working areas, fitness centres, shared dining rooms, libraries, rooftop terraces and gardens. “These shared spaces foster a sense of community allowing people to co-habit rather than just co-exist,” adds Anne-Marie Brown. “To further engage customers, many Build to Rent developments have on-site teams to connect residents through social events and are utilising technology to enable tenants to communicate based on shared interests and activities.”


Addressing the issues surrounding loneliness is clearly paying off. People are 62% more likely to renew their tenancies if they have seven or more friends in their building. Anne-Marie Brown concludes: “Being part of a community gives us a sense of belonging. In fact, as humans, it isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity to our health, well-being and the society at large. The more we talk openly about the issues surrounding loneliness, the more we can create housing that addresses these needs.”  

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