Nearly half of renters one paycheque away from homelessness due to “grossly expensive” rents

Many tenants have no savings at allMany tenants have no savings at all
Many tenants have no savings at all
Nearly half of renters are one paycheque away from losing their home, as people “pay grossly expensive rents they can barely afford”.

With little or no savings to fall back on, 45 per cent of private renters in England could not afford to pay their rent for more than a month if they lost their job, new research from Shelter shows.

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The situation is particularly bleak for working families with children, the charity said. The research, carried out by YouGov, found a staggering 60 per cent, or 760,000 renting families could be just one paycheque away from losing their home.

In addition, a job loss would render more than half a million of these families immediately unable to pay their rent.

Shelter called for more social homes to reduce the cost of renting and create more stability for tenants.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “By allowing the number of genuinely affordable social homes to plummet, politicians have super-charged our housing emergency.

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“Millions of working people are now caught in an endless cycle of paying grossly expensive private rents they can barely afford – with all the insecurity that brings. Many are terrified that even a short-term dip in income could result in them losing their home for good.

“Warm words and piecemeal policies will not solve this deepening crisis. The only way politicians can fix what has gone so wrong is with a clear commitment from every party to deliver three million more social homes over the next 20 years.”

This research chimes with the government’s own figures, which reveal 63 per cent of private renting households have no savings at all. Tenants spend on average 41 per cent of their monthly income on rent costs - making it incredibly difficult for private renters to put anything aside, Shelter said.

Ben Clay, spokesman at Tenants Union UK, said: "Precarious private renting is now the norm for many people in Yorkshire, and across the country. With stagnant wage levels and precarious work adding to the burden on many households, the government needs to take action to tackle the housing crisis. Losing a private tenancy is now the leading cause of homelessness, which is why Tenants Union UK has been campaigning to end Section 21 'no fault' evictions.

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“Along with the roll out of universal credit, discouraging landlords from providing homes for claimants, and the historic low levels of social housing caused by a lack of investment and the ongoing losses to right to buy, we have a perfect storm which causes increasing difficulty to all private tenants, but especially the least well off and most vulnerable, who are disproportionately impacted by these policy failures."

Sam Rae, membership officer at Leeds Acorn, a union for tenants, said anecdotally Shelter’s figures rung true locally, with universal credit being one of the biggest issues for tenants in Leeds.

“Universal credit is causing big problems. It’s a five-week delay for receiving money, and when people have dependants, they can easily go into rent arrears. When a tenant is more than two months in rent arrears, a landlord can take action to start to evict them. They can lose their home easily and there’s not much in place to help.”

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He said the law favoured landlords, adding: “The reality is, it’s easy for landlords to evict people. Landlords have money and the law, tenants have each other.”

Housing Minister Esther McVey said: “Our reforms have increased the amount of social housing stock by 79,000 since 2010, while the social housing waiting list has decreased by 40%

“We are supporting private renters by cracking down on rogue landlords, banning unfair fees and capping deposits, saving tenants at least £240 million a year.

“We’re committed to building the homes this country needs and we have delivered over 430,000 affordable homes overall.

“With the tax cuts we’ve introduced this year and wages rising at their fastest in over a decade, this Government is continuing to support families with their cost of living.”