Rent rises hit home

13 October 2011

Family on a sofa

Shelter research reveals ordinary working families face unaffordable private rents in 55% of local authorities in England.

In the majority of areas, typical rents from private landlords are over a third of the average take-home pay - the widely accepted measure of affordability.

From 1997 to 2007, rents increased at one and a half times the rate of incomes. Recent research by Shelter has also revealed that 38% of families with children who are renting privately have cut down on buying food to pay their rent.

The findings show that for those priced out of home ownership, renting is not the cheaper alternative it has often been considered. The findings also show big differences in affordability in different parts of the country.

  • Many  rural areas are bearing the brunt of high rent rates and low earnings, with rents more affordable in Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham than in north Devon, north Dorset or Herefordshire. 
  • London boroughs are the most expensive in England, with the average rent for a two bedroom home in the capital (£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.

The research provides a picture of rental affordability across the country for the first time, and forms part of Shelter’s ongoing Rent Watch campaign.

Shelter is now calling on the government to take urgent action to stabilise the rental market and to develop policies to bring rents more in line with average earnings.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive, says: ‘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. ’  

Read the full Rent Watch report