Soaring interest rates have focused attention on the 4.2 million households whose mortgage repayments have risen, alongside the
3.3 million yet to face the pain.
But there are millions enduring another property plight – soaring rents and rising competition for fewer rented homes on the market.
There are reports of long queues outside letting agents when new homes are rented out.
Bidding wars have seen people offer more than the advertised rent.
And renters are being asked for photos and a university-style “personal statement” to impress prospective landlords.
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Richard Lane, director of debt charity StepChange, said: “The pressure on tenants in the private rented sector has been building steadily since before the pandemic to a now unsustainable level, especially in the largest cities where rents are rising above 10 percent.
“Our recent polling found that private renters are almost twice as likely to be in problem debt compared with the general population, while half of private renters have seen their rent increase in the last 12 months.
“With mortgage rates reaching their highest level in 15 years, rents are only increasing further as landlords seek to pass on debt-servicing costs, at a time when households are struggling with the cost of living.
“We welcomed the end to ‘no fault’ evictions of private tenants proposed in the Renters (Reform) Bill. But with rents rising and
cost-of-living pressures biting, we urgently need to see effective support and protections for the most financially vulnerable private tenants, who can easily face mandatory eviction if they fall into a relatively small amount of rent arrears.”
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Since April 2020 rents have risen by almost 10 percent and further rises are expected as landlords cover mortgage costs.
Interest rates have risen to five percent to curb inflation, which was stuck at 8.7 percent in May.
The Office for National Statistics says 43 percent of renters reported it was “very” or “somewhat” difficult to afford rent, compared with 28 percent of mortgage holders.
The ONS said renters spend less on essentials and are more likely to run out of food and fall behind with energy bills.
The number of renters in England has doubled to more than 11 million since the late 1980s. Mean-while, landlords are selling up due to rising costs, tougher regulations and legislation in the new Bill.
Sixteen percent of properties for sale in June were previously rented, up from 13 percent in January 2019, found Rightmove.
Local authorities are no longer building homes with protected rents and social housing providers are struggling with long waiting lists.
Planning applications have fallen to record lows and housebuilding in England is set to reach its lowest since wartime, squeezing supply.
Many people are forced to live in poor-quality housing or end up homeless. Around 600,000 privately rented homes – one in eight – have issues such as damp and mould.
More than 100,000 families in England, including 125,000 children, live in temporary accommodation – a 20-year high.
And renting privately is no longer a stepping stone to saving for a deposit. Finding a property is now so hard experts predict an increase of 580,000 “sofa surfers” and concealed households by 2030 – a jump of 29 percent. These are people who would be homeless if not staying with friends or relatives.
In 2018-19, two percent of households – 541,000 – had someone in this category staying in the last 12 months, said housing consultancy Lichfields.
Sofa surfing is more prevalent in London and the South-East.
Just under three in 10 of those who had sofa surfers living with them had dependent children.
In addition, there were 1.6 million households with an adult who would prefer to buy or rent on their own but cannot afford
it. This means two million adults are living in these “concealed households”.
As many as 88 percent of these are under 35 with 82 percent in full- or part-time work
Experts say social housing again needs to become the second-largest form of tenure, and urged a Renters’ Charter to make renting fairer, more secure and more affordable.
And pensioners are also struggling, with the number of older people renting privately increasing 56 percent in the last decade to 403,000.
Morgan Vine, of the charity Independent Age, said: “Of these renters in later life, a quarter are in long-term poverty.
“Many more are concerned about the stability of their housing situation, with landlords currently able to evict tenants with little warning and through no fault of their own.
“Many tenants therefore feel too scared to ask their landlord to make repairs. Older renters who claim pension credit or housing benefit are frequently turned away by letting agents.
“What older renters need is safe, secure and suitable housing.
“The Government should also unfreeze housing benefit, which has been stuck at 2019 levels and doesn’t cover local rents in most of the country.”
“This situation makes private rents unaffordable, particularly for those living on only the state pension and benefits.”
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