"Runaway rents will deal many renters a knock-out blow"
One in seven, or nearly 1.1 million, private renters in England has experienced an increase in their rents in recent weeks, research from housing charity Shelter has shown.
The organisation’s research also revealed that three in every 10 renters (30%) are behind on their rental payments or are constantly struggling to pay their rent.
It was found that nearly a third (32%) of tenants are spending at least half their household income on rent.
“The already high cost of renting meant tenants were on the ropes trying to keep up with rising food and energy prices,” Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said. “Now, runaway rents will deal many renters a knock-out blow.
“We’re at breaking point, too many families won’t be able to keep a roof over their head this winter because they won’t be able to afford to heat their home or pay their rent.”
Read more: Private rents continue to climb – ONS.
According to Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association, the latest official data shows that average private rents across the UK have gone up by 3.4% over the last 12 months.
“This shows that most landlords are prepared to bear the brunt of rising costs to keep tenants in their homes when they can,” Norris pointed out. “There will be cases where landlords are simply unable to shoulder all the increased costs and need to increase rents accordingly.
“Where this causes difficulties, particularly for tenants on low incomes, the government should end the freeze on housing benefits. Even before the sharp rise in inflation, the level of benefits was failing to reflect the cost of rents as they are today.”
Norris said that further increases in rents will also be driven by a chronic shortage of homes for private rent.
“This is a direct consequence of government action to discourage investment in the sector,” he remarked. “Ministers need urgently to develop pro-growth policies to ensure supply meets demand in the rental market.”
“To give cash-strapped renters a fighting chance, the Prime Minister must, at a minimum, urgently unfreeze housing benefit so people can afford to pay their rent or face an explosion in homelessness,” Neate added.
Shelter’s research was based on a survey of 2,000 private renters conducted by YouGov and funded by Nationwide.