Private rents 'unaffordable' in most of country
Average rents in the private sector are unaffordable for ordinary working families in more than half of local authorities in England, research shows.
The housing and homelessness charity Shelter released findings from its rent watch which showed that in the majority of councils, typical rents from private landlords were over a third of average take-home pay.
Rural areas are among the worst hit with findings showing that it is now more affordable to rent in Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham that it is to rent in north Devon, north Dorset or Herefordshire.
London boroughs were the most expensive, with the average rent for a two bedroom home at £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 per cent of average earnings.
Shelter is calling on the government to take urgent action to stabilise the private rental market and develop policies to bring rents in line with average earnings.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘With huge differences in affordability across the country, there are now worrying signs that families are likely to be displaced by our out-of-control rental market.
‘Over recent years we have seen more and more people forced into renting, as high house prices and a lack of social housing have made it the only option for thousands of ordinary families.
‘What we’re seeing now is that renting is no longer the easy, cheap alternative to home ownership.
‘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.
‘With rural areas suffering just as much as cities - or in many cases, even less affordable - it’s no longer enough to encourage people to move out of crowded urban areas.
‘Government must urgently consider how private renting can become a stable, affordable option for families, and not a heavy financial burden that makes parents choose between buying food for their children and paying the rent.
‘This should be the wake-up call needed to finally take action to address our renting crisis.’