13 Oct 2011

Rent ‘unaffordable’ in over half of England

Renting privately has become unaffordable for ordinary families in 55 per cent of local authorities, according to a report by the Shelter housing charity.

Rent 'unaffordable' in over half of England (getty)

Private rents in 8 per cent of England’s local authorities were found to be “extremely unaffordable”. In these areas, average rents were more than half of a full-time, take-home pay.

Homes which cost more than 35 per cent of median local take-home pay are considered unaffordable by the Shelter Private Rent Watch report.

In the 10 years up to 2007, rents increased at one and a half times the rate of incomes, said Shelter. Only 12 per cent of areas in England are now considered affordable.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the housing and homelessness charity, said: “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.”

Shelter carried out its analysis on two-bedroom homes as these are the most commonly rented properties.

Rural areas fare the worst, with high rental prices relative to income. The highest private rent for a two-bedroom home was in Kensington and Chelsea, at £2,714 a month, while the lowest was in Burnley, Lancashire, at £394 a month.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “We have stopped the imposition of excessive new red tape on the private rented sector, which would have pushed up rents and reduced choice for tenants.

“We also need to build more homes given new house building fell to its lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s under the last administration.”