Nearly a third of tenants struggle to pay rent

Nearly a third of tenants are struggling to afford their rent, official figures have revealed.

In new data published today as part of the English Housing Survey, 29 per cent of tenants in the private sector surveyed in 2017/18 said they found it “fairly difficult” or “very difficult” to pay their rent.

The remaining 71 per cent found it “fairly” or “very easy” to cover their housing costs.

The average percentage of income spent on housing costs by private renters is almost double that spent by home owners.

Private renters spent 33 per cent of their total household income on rent, while those in social rented housing spent 28 per cent and home owners with mortgages spent just 17 per cent.

The affordability squeeze was worse for younger tenants and those living in the capital where rents are the highest in the country.

The survey found 16 to 24 year olds spend on average 45 per cent of income on rent.

In London tenants across all age groups spend an average 42 per cent of income on rent. 

Campaign group Generation Rent says the high cost of housing is forcing tenants to choose between going hungry or getting into debt.

Director Dan Wilson Craw says: “High rents are making life miserable for private renters.

“Even for those who can cover the rent, escaping the sector by moving into home ownership is a long way off – nearly two-thirds cannot save and just one in 10 have more than £16,000 in the bank. 

“With millions of people growing older in private rented homes, the next Prime Minister must make it an acceptable long term tenure.

“That means protecting tenants from unfair evictions and rent rises, and doing what it takes to make rents affordable.”

But the Residential Landlords Association says the data “dispels the myth that private renting means insecure tenancies and ever increasing costs”.

RLA policy director David Smith says: “It shows that renters are spending less of their income on housing, at 33 per cent, down from 34 per cent the previous year and 36 per cent in 2014/15, and are staying in their homes for over four years on average.”

He adds: “As Ministers look at ending so called ‘no fault’ evictions the survey finds that the large majority of those who moved out of their home did so because they wanted to, either for work, a larger home or to move to a different area (72 per cent) or because their tenancy had come to an end (8 per cent).

“A further 10 per cent moved on mutual agreement with their landlord.

“The majority (84 per cent) of private renters also reported being satisfied with their current accommodation, higher than in the social rented sector.”

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