Rents becoming “unaffordable”

Rents have become unaffordable in over half of country, says Shelter

Friday 14th October 2011

Average rents in the private sector have become unaffordable for working families in 55% of local authority areas in England.

Shelter says that in most such areas, typical rents are over one-third of take-home pay and 38% of families with children are having to cut down on food in order to meet rental payments.

Tenants in rural areas are worst hit, with Shelter’s research showing that it is now more affordable to rent in Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham than to rent in north Devon, north Dorset or Herefordshire.

London boroughs are the most expensive, with the average rent for a two-bedroom home at £1,360 – almost two and a half times the average in the rest of the country (£568).

The least affordable local authority area outside London is Oxford, where typical rents account for 55% of average earnings.

Shelter is calling on the Government to take urgent action to stabilise rents and bring them into line with average earnings.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “With huge differences in affordability across the country, there are now worrying signs that families are likely to be displaced by our out-of-control rental market.

“Over recent years we have seen more and more people forced into renting, as high house prices and a lack of social housing have made it the only option for thousands of ordinary families.  

“What we’re seeing now is that renting is no longer the easy, cheap alternative to home ownership.

“We have become depressingly familiar with first-time buyers being priced out of the housing market, but the impact of unaffordable rents is more dramatic.

“With no cheaper alternative, ordinary people are forced to cut their spending on essentials like food and heating, or uproot and move away from jobs, schools and families.

“With rural areas suffering just as much as cities – or in many cases, even less affordable – it’s no longer enough to encourage people to move out of crowded urban areas.

“The Government must urgently consider how private renting can become a stable, affordable option for families, and not a heavy financial burden that makes parents choose between buying food for their children and paying the rent.

“This should be the wake-up call needed to finally take action to address our renting crisis.”