More than a million private renters hit with a rent hike in the last month

Posted 23 Sep 2022

Almost 1.1million private renters in England– one in seven–had their rent increased in the last month, a new report from Shelter reveals.  

The charity’s research shows millions of private tenants are stretched to breaking point: one in three (2.6 million adults)are spending at least half their household income on rent. And even more staggeringly, almost 2.5 million renters are either behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent, a figure which has rapidly increased by 45% since April 2022.  

Even before the cost-of-living crisis, private renters were paying the highest housing costs compared to people in social housing or with a mortgage. Shelter is warning that unless the government helps those struggling to pay their rent, a huge surge in homelessness is inevitable. It is urging the government to stop this ticking timebomb by unfreezing housing benefit, which is lagging way behind rents, having been frozen at 2020 levels.  

Shelter’s latest polling, which was conducted by YouGov and funded by Nationwide, also looked at the scale of rent increases in the last year. Of the 3.5 million private tenants who had their rent increased–more than 800,000saw it put up by more than £100 a month, and nearly 200,000 were hit with an eye-watering rise of more than £300 a month.  

The alarming findings mirror what Shelter is seeing through its own frontline services. The charity’s web advice on grants, loans and help to pay rent was viewed every minutes between 1 June and 31 August – a total of just over 25,000 views, an increase of 205% compared with the first three months of the year.  

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.” 

Andrew, 38, lives in a one-bedroom flat near Brighton with his partner and shares custody of his children from his previous marriage. He works full time as an engineer. Recently his landlord put his rent up by £155 a month making it unaffordable and forcing him to move. 

“In June my landlord raised by rent by £155, £100 more than we’d previously agreed. I couldn’t afford it and had no choice but to move. With my budget I could only afford a one-bedroom flat in the area, so when my children stay each weekend I sleep on the sofa, my partner sleeps on a camp bed, and the kids sleep in our bed and a bunkbed in the bedroom. 

“Having to move and knowing that our rent could so easily spiral again beyond our means has left my partner in a constant state of anxiety, to the point she needs professional mental health support. I just want my family to have some stability and security.” 

Shelter will continue to do everything it can to help struggling renters to stay in their homes during the cost-of-living crisis. Private tenants with rent arrears should consider talking directly with their landlord or agent to try and negotiate a payment agreement. Anyone who is worried about losing their home can contact the charity for free and expert advice and support by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

All polling figures are based on a YouGov survey for Shelter of 2,031 Private Renters in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29 July and 17 August 2022. The survey was carried out Online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all private rentingadults in England (aged 16+). Population figures have been calculated by Shelter using English Housing Survey data.  

% of Private Renting Adults Number of Private Renting Adults
Private renters who said their rent had increased in the last month13% 1,070,223
Private renters who spend at least half of their monthly household income on their monthly rent 32% 2,605,548
Private renters who are behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent 30% 2,465,526
Private renters who have seen their rent increase in the last year 42% 3,469,082
Renters who have seen their rent increase by more than £100 in the last year 10% 841,946
Renters who have seen their rent increase by more than £300 in the last year 2% 197,044

The comparison with the number of renters behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent is based on a YouGov survey of 1,029 Private Renters in England carried out in April 2022. Fieldwork was carried out between the 1 and 11 April 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted to be representative of private renters in England. 

% of Private Renting Adults Number of Private Renting Adults
Private renters who are behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent 21% 1,697,454

In 2021 the ONS deemed rent to be ‘affordable’ if a household spends less than 30% of its income on rent. 

The latest government data shows mean weekly mortgage payments in 2020-21 were £174 compared to mean weekly rents of £10 for social renters, and £198 for private renters – who pay the most for their homes. Source: English Housing Survey Annex Table 1_10 and 1_11

Shelter website data sourced internally comparing total views of ‘Emergency grants, loans and money help’ between 1 January and 31 March 2022 and 1 June and 31 August 2022. Data access 1 September 2022.