NEW FIGURES released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 22 May reveal that average UK private rents increased by 8.9 per cent in the 12 months to April 2024.

StepChange Debt Charity says this will create more worry among private renters as the Renters (Reform) Bill, currently making its way through the House of Lords, does not address rising affordability concerns.

The ONS data comes as StepChange releases new polling, commissioned through YouGov, showing:

  • One in three (31 per cent) private renters have used a form of credit to ensure they can afford their rent payments in the last 12 months, a figure which was 28 per cent in January 2024.
  • One in two (50 per cent) private renters have found it difficult to keep up with bills and credit commitments in the last few months, compared to 40 per cent of all UK adults and 44 per cent of mortgage holders.
  • One in three (33 per cent) private renters have cut back on essential spending during the last 12 months, compared to one in four (26 per cent) UK adults.

Alongside an end to Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, StepChange would like to see the Bill strengthened with measures to support Private Rented Sector (PRS) tenants to stay in their homes if they are struggling financially.

Peter Tutton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Research at StepChange, said: “We’ve reached a point where renting in the PRS is increasingly unaffordable, yet the growing scarcity of social housing means that more and more financially or otherwise vulnerable people have no choice but to do so.

“Sky-high rents and wider cost of living pressures mean millions of private renters are scraping by or relying on credit to pay their rent. Even with the Renters (Reform) Bill currently in the Lords, PRS tenants are given no effective statutory protection from eviction if they do fall into problem debt.

“While it’s important that this Bill is progressed with a clear timeline of when Section 21 will end, we’d like to see changes that would increase security for private renters, with protections from eviction that mirror those which already exist for mortgagors and social housing tenants. In the long term, we need to see a commitment to making housing more affordable and a clearer plan from government to reduce the risk of financially vulnerable PRS tenants losing their home because of rent arrears.”

* Read more about the amendments StepChange is calling for in the Renters (Reform) Bill here.

* Read the ONS figures here.

* Source: StepChange Debt Charity