Housing charity Shelter has revealed that average private rents are unaffordable for ordinary working families in 55% of local authorities in England.
The Shelter Rent Watch shows that in the majority of local authorities, typical rents from private landlords were over a third of average take-home pay, the widely accepted measure of affordability.
The housing and homelessness charity is calling for government to take urgent action to stabilise a rental market that is out of control, and develop policies to bring rents more in line with average earnings. From 1997 to 2007, rents increased at one and a half times the rate of incomes.
Recent research by Shelter showed that 38% of families with children who are renting privately have cut down on buying food to pay their rent.
The figures, which provide a picture of rental affordability across the country for the first time, show that many rural areas are bearing the brunt of high rent rates and low earnings. The research reveals that it’s more affordable to rent in Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham than it is to rent in north Devon, north Dorset or Herefordshire. And in Yorkshire, the cities of Bradford and Sheffield are both more affordable than the rural areas of Ryedale and Richmondshire.
London boroughs are the most expensive, with the average rent for a two bedroom home in the capital (£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% of average earnings.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “With huge differences in affordability across the country