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A million private renters saw rents rise last month

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Written by: Shekina Tuahene
23/09/2022
One in seven private renters in England – equating to a million people – said their rent increased in August.

The report from homelessness charity Shelter found that of the 2,031 private renters polled, 13% saw a hike in rental costs. The charity has equated this to potentially 1.1 million private renters in England facing higher rents. 

When asked about changes to the cost of rent in the last year, this figure rose to 42% of private renters seeing an increase. 

A tenth said these rises over the last year had amounted to over £100, and 2% saw increases of more than £300 over the same period. 

A third of respondents said they were spending more than half of their monthly household income on rent, while 30% said they were behind on payments or constantly struggling to keep up. 

Unfreeze housing benefit 

The charity called on the government to unfreeze housing benefits to help those struggling to keep up with rent. 

The housing benefit has been frozen since 2020 and is currently capped at £23,000 a year for families in London receiving Universal Credit and £15,410 for single people. Across the rest of Britain, it is capped at £20,000 a year for families and £13,400 for single people.   

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “With more than a million private tenants hit with a rent hike in just the last month, time is running out. The already high cost of renting meant tenants were on the ropes trying to keep up with rising food and energy prices. Now runaway rents will deal many renters a knock-out blow.   

“Our emergency helpline advisers are doing everything they can to help people cling onto their homes. We’re at breaking point, too many families won’t be able to keep a roof over their head this winter because they won’t be able to afford to heat their home or pay their rent.  

“To give cash-strapped renters a fighting chance, the Prime Minister must, at a minimum, urgently unfreeze housing benefit so people can afford to pay their rent or face an explosion in homelessness.”  

Landlords bearing the brunt of rising costs 

In response to the research, Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “At a time when inflation is so high and landlord costs are rapidly increasing, the latest official data shows that average private rents across the UK have gone up by 3.4% over the last 12 months. This shows that most landlords are prepared to bear the brunt of rising costs to keep tenants in their homes when they can.  

“There will be cases where landlords are simply unable to shoulder all the increased costs and need to increase rents accordingly. Where this causes difficulties, particularly for tenants on low incomes, the government should end the freeze on housing benefits. Even before the sharp rise in inflation, the level of benefits was failing to reflect the cost of rents as they are today.

Norris added: “Further increases in rents will also be driven by a chronic shortage of homes for private rent. This is a direct consequence of government action to discourage investment in the sector. Ministers need urgently to develop pro-growth policies to ensure supply meets demand in the rental market.” 

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