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Unaffordable rents see tenants overspend by £11bn a year

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Private tenants are forced to spend hundreds of pounds more on rent than they can afford, resulting in many turning to credit cards and family to cover costs.

Renters overspend by an average £425 a month per household, according to homeless charity Shelter.

An affordability measure suggests that rent shouldn’t take up more than 30% of household income, but Shelter’s analysis reveals private rents account for 41% of incomes on average.

This means 2.2 million households are spending beyond their means just to pay rent, with those on lower incomes being hit the hardest.

Shelter said 37% of the £11bn overspend is being shouldered by the poorest fifth of households. And 24% of parents said they have had to borrow money from friends or family in the past year, while 23% have used a credit card to bridge the gap.

The charity said people are left in this precarious situation due to “decades of failure to build desperately needed social homes”, and because homeownership is out of reach for many renters.

With the general election next month, Shelter is calling on the next government to provide at least 90,000 homes a year over the course of parliament.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Hugely unaffordable rents are dominating daily life for millions of people, forcing them to rely on costly credit cards or borrow what they can from family and friends. Our services see the real cost of private renting, which is leaving parents struggling to put food on the table or turn the heating on, while also keeping a roof over their children’s heads.

“When someone is forced to spend hundreds more than they can afford on rent each month, it’s clear that private renting isn’t working for everyone. Boosting social housebuilding is the only way to end the housing emergency, which is why the new government must deliver at least 90,000 social rent homes a year over the next parliament. Housing is an important issue for renters and all politicians must take note.”

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