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19 June 2009

A home can make you sick

Is owning your own home making you sick?

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The stresses associated with taking out a mortgage and keeping up with the payments are making people sick, and mortgages should come with a public health warning, according to a report in the Times.

Propelled by the widespread dream of owning their own homes, many people buy homes they cannot afford and then find themselves trapped in crumbling buildings they cannot keep up, it said, quoting a study in the British Medical Journal.

Among the deleterious effects, according to the BMJ study, are that homeowners falling behind on their payments become so fearful of losing their homes that they drink and smoke too much, their relationships break down and they even have more car crashes because they are so preoccupied.

The situation in Britain
The problem in Britain has grown since the home-ownership explosion that followed the introduction of the schemes in the 1980s to allow council tenants to buy their homes.

About 100 British people a week lose their homes through non-payment, although this is well down from the house price collapse in the early 1990s when more than a million homeowners had their homes repossessed.

Immune system suffers due to stress
Susan Smith, professor of Geography at Edinburgh University who contributed to the report, said: "People who live in poor quality housing suffer, not just from the environmental hazards, but also from the psychosocial stress that comes from living on the wrong end of the poverty scale.

"If people live under chronic stress then their immune system suffers and they become vulnerable to health problems," she added. – (Sapa-DPA)

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