ONE IN TWO working private renters in England – 3.2 million adults – would not have enough in savings to pay their rent for more than a month if they lost their job, new research by Shelter reveals. And 2.2 million renters (34 per cent) would be immediately unable to pay their rent from their savings if they lost their job.
With tenants’ savings all but drying up, these are some of the worst figures the charity has recorded since before the pandemic. In fact, the number of renters who are one paycheque away from losing their home is up by almost a third (31 per cent) in just two years.
Official government data shows private rents are at a record high, and according to Shelter’s latest YouGov poll 55 per cent of private renters have had their rent put up in the last year – putting immense strain on people’s finances: 2.1 million tenants (37 per cent) are now struggling or behind with their rent due to the increase in payments.
Shelter is arguing that the only sustainable, long-term alternative to expensive, unstable private renting is to build more social homes. In contrast with private renting, social housing offers long term secure tenancies with rents set at local incomes.
Additional research by the charity shows the benefits of social housing to local communities are significant with:
- More than three quarters of social renters in England (76 per cent) say without their social home they would not be able to afford to live in their local area.
- 67 per cent of social renters say where they live feels like a safe, stable, and secure home.
- 53 per cent say living in a social home enables them to stay close to family and friends.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “Private renters up and down the country are facing a crisis like never before. Decades of failure from government to build enough social housing means that the pressure on oversubscribed private renting is worse than ever.
“The severe lack of social homes means swathes of people are barely scraping by as they’re forced to compete for grossly expensive private rentals, because there is nothing else. With food and household bills continuing to surge, the situation is precarious for thousands of renters who are one paycheque away from losing their home, and the spectre of homelessness.
“The time for piecemeal policies is over. To jam the brakes on the housing emergency we need a genuinely affordable alternative to private renting. We know social housing works for most people because it’s secure and the rents are tied to local incomes. Instead of empty words,the government and every political party must sign up to building thousands more social homes.”
Priscilla works full time as a school business manager. She has two grown up children, one works as a chef and the other is at university. She has lived in a two-bed private rental for 15 years. In May Priscilla was issued a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice. She applies for properties all the time but is finding that landlords are accepting offers way above the advertised rent, or they are going to a bidding war. It is difficult for Priscilla and her son to move too far as neither of them drive and they need to get to work.
Priscilla said: “I look for new properties every single day. Before I fall asleep, I will have a look for properties just in case there’s something, and I wake up early at four or five in the morning and look again and send enquiries. I’ve applied for over 20 properties so far.
“I am stressed, anxious and depressed. I can’t sleep and I can’t concentrate at work. I am already making financial sacrifices; I don’t go out and I won’t be having holidays anymore. I’ve been in several situations where other renters have offered more than the rent advertised. At a recent viewing the estate agent said two people before me had already offered a year’s rent in advance.
“I’ve talked to my son about all our options, but we can’t afford a deposit to buy when our rent is so high. An affordable social home would make a big difference. I would know that this house is secure, and I wouldn’t need to move after a couple of years. The thought of moving again is so stressful.”
* Source: Shelter