Private renters ‘spending £11bn more than they can afford on rent’

England’s private renters are collectively paying out £11 billion more a year on rent than they can afford, according to Shelter.

This works out at an average of £425 a month more than is affordable per household among those who are overspending, research by the housing charity found.

Shelter said its calculations were based on a “widely accepted measure of affordability” that rents should take up no more than 30% of household income.

The charity calculated the overspend by comparing government data on private rents and incomes.

The analysis found that private rents eat up 41% of incomes on average.

Shelter said more than a third (37%) of the £11 billion “overspend” is being shouldered by the poorest fifth of households, resulting in an even bigger squeeze on their finances.

According to Shelter’s own survey, findings among parents in the private rental sector showed that 24% have ended up borrowing from friends or family over the last year.

A similar proportion, at 23%, had used a credit card over the last year to help them keep up with their rental payments.

Shelter suggested that providing at least 90,000 homes a year over the course of the parliament would kick-start efforts to reach the three million social homes needed over 20 years.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “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.”