8:11 AM, 23rd September 2022, About 3 days ago 2
Nearly 1.1 million private renters in England – that’s one in seven – had their rent increased in the last month, a report from Shelter reveals.
The charity’s research shows millions of private tenants are ‘stretched to breaking point’ and that one in three (2.6 million adults) are spending at least half of their household income on rent.
And with nearly 2.5 million renters who are either behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent, the charity says the government must unfreeze housing benefit.
Their call has been supported by the National Residential Landlords’ Association who also points out that ‘landlords are prepared to bear the brunt of rising costs to keep tenants in their homes’.
Shelter says that even before the cost-of-living crisis, private renters were paying the highest housing costs compared to people in social housing or with a mortgage.
They warn that unless the government helps those struggling to pay their rent, a huge surge in homelessness is inevitable.
It is now urging the government to stop this ‘ticking timebomb’ by unfreezing housing benefit, which is lagging way behind rents, having been frozen at 2020 levels.
Shelter’s latest polling, which was funded by Nationwide, also looked at the scale of rent increases in the last year.
Of the 3.5 million private tenants who had their rent increased – more than 800,000 saw it put up by more than £100 a month, and nearly 200,000 were hit with an eye-watering rise of more than £300 a month.
Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “With more than a million private tenants hit with a rent hike in just the last month, time is running out.
“The already high cost of renting meant tenants were on the ropes trying to keep up with rising food and energy prices.
“Now runaway rents will deal many renters a knock-out blow.”
She added: “Our emergency helpline advisers are doing everything they can to help people cling onto their homes.
“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.
“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.”
In response, Chris Norris, the policy director for the National Residential Landlords’ Association, said: “At a time when inflation is so high and landlord costs are rapidly increasing, 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.”
He added: “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.”
Mr Norris continued: “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.
“Ministers need urgently to develop pro-growth policies to ensure supply meets demand in the rental market.”
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