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UK private tenants hit by rent hike as cost of living crisis deepens

To-let signs outside properties in London. (File Photo)

One in seven, or almost 1.1 million, private renters in England  have been hit by a rent hike in recent weeks, research from housing charity Shelter has shown.

Nearly 13% of people surveyed for the charity between July 29 and August 17 said that their rent had been increased in the last month.

The survey also revealed that three in every 10 renters (30%) are behind on their rental payments or are constantly struggling to pay their rent and a third (32%) say they are spending at least half their household income on rent.

The number of families with children in the UK assessed as needing help to prevent them from becoming homeless or to relieve their homelessness has risen by almost a quarter in a year, the figures showed.

Shelter’s latest polling also looked at the scale of rent increases in the past year. Two-fifths (42%) had experienced a rent increase in the past year and one in 10 (10%) had seen it increase by more than £100 per month.

“The already high costs 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," Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said.

“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,” she added.

For families threatened with homelessness, the most common reason was the loss of their home due to the end of a private rented assured shorthold tenancy (AST) at 45.6% of the total.

Some 56,340 households with children needed help to stop them becoming homeless in 2021-22, according to annual data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). 

This is up 23.6% from the previous year.

“At a time when the cost of living crisis is hitting households, it’s deeply worrying that people are being forced from their homes, through no fault of their own, and plunged into instability, unable to afford somewhere to live,” Matt Downie, UK Chief Executive of Crisis said.

He pointed out the figures only cover the first months of the rising cost of living, and called for the government to increase housing benefit, properly protect renters from no-fault evictions and set out a plan for more genuinely affordable homes.

In August, the Bank of England forecast a recession for the world’s fifth-biggest economy lasting from the end of 2022 until early 2024, due in large part to the hit to living standards from energy prices, pushed up by the sanctions imposed against energy-giant Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Soaring energy prices coupled with runaway inflation have imperiled the livelihood of Europeans. European governments are enforcing measures to cut down on gas usage and, as an alternate source, have also started focusing on nuclear energy.

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