ALMOST 1.1 MILLION PRIVATE RENTERS in England, that is one in seven, had their rent increased in the last month, a new report from Shelter reveals. The charity’s latest research shows millions of private tenants are stretched to breaking point.

New Shelter statistics show the growing burden of housing costs on struggling private renters in England:

  • One in seven renters (1.1million in total) faced a rent increase in the last month.

  • One in three renters (2.6 million people) are now spending at least half their household income on rent.

  • 2.5 million renters say they are now behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent, up 45 per cent since April

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. Shelter is warning that unless the government helps those struggling to pay their rent, a huge surge in homelessness is inevitable. It is urging the government to unfreeze housing benefit, which is lagging way behind rents, having been frozen at 2020 levels.

Shelter’s latest polling, which was conducted by YouGov and 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 a rise of more than £300 a month.

The findings mirror what Shelter is seeing through its own frontline services. The charity’s website advice on grants, loans and help to pay rent was viewed every minutes between 1 June and 31 August – a total of just over 25,000 views, an increase of 205 per cent compared with the first three months of the year.

Responding to the Chancellor’s mini-budget, Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “The real growth this government should be ready for is a growth in homelessness. The Chancellor has done nothing to help the 2.5 million private renters who are already behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent. Cutting stamp duty won’t protect those at risk of losing their homes, but it will push up house prices.

“Every day our helpline advisers answer calls from families on the brink of losing their home as they can no longer keep up with runaway rents or afford to eat. This mini budget is not going to ease the terror families feel, with the Chancellor leaving housing benefit frozen at 2020 levels.

“The government has missed its shot today to prevent a rapid rise in homelessness. To keep people at the sharpest end of this crisis in their homes, housing benefit must be unfrozen now. Allowing homelessness to rise will cost the economy more and ruin countless lives.”

* Access housing advice from Shelter here.

.* Source: Shelter England