One in five 31-44 year olds who do not have children are delaying starting a family because of the lack of affordable housing.
More than one in four (26 per cent) of those who decided to wait say they have been doing so for five years or more.
The figures, revealed in a YouGov survey commissioned by the housing and homelessness charity Shelter, represent a 63 per cent increase since 2009.
High house prices and the large deposits required by lenders mean growing numbers of people are unable to buy a home. The government’s English Housing Survey shows that 32.3 per cent of first-time buyers were aged 35 and over between 2008 and 2011. Of this number, 6.5 per cent were in their late 40s and early 50s.
The figures come in the wake of a study carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) earlier this year which found that the number of people aged 18-30 who are unable to afford to leave their parents' home is expected to rise by half a million to 3.7 million by 2020. It predicts that the number of home owners under the age of 30 will halve over the same period.
The JRF point out that while young professionals may be able to rent instead of buying, the future is stark for the more vulnerable as the number of homeless people under 25 is predicted to rise to 81,000, with further increases expected.
Shelter is calling on the Government to take' radical action' to stop an entire generation being held back by the shortage of affordable homes.
Kay Boycott, Director of Communications, Policy and Campaigns at Shelter, said: "It’s heartbreaking that so many people are being forced to put their lives on hold in this way.
"The Government has a responsibility to act now to ensure that today’s young people and the generation after them aren’t denied something as basic as a proper home to raise their children in."
Kathleen Kelly from the JRF, said: "Our badly functioning housing system will see those on the lowest incomes really struggling to compete in the competitive rental market of 2020.
"Renting is likely to be the only game in town and young people are facing fierce competition to secure a home in what is an already diminished supply of housing."
David Clapham, lead author of the JRF report says it is vital that renting is made to work better. "To do this" he says, "we need strong political leadership that is willing to work with both landlords and tenants to make it more affordable and stable for 'generation rent'."