Majority of private renters say they have no savings

But RLA says updated English Housing Survey stats “dispel the myth” that the PRS means insecure tenancies and increasing costs.

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A majority of private renters referenced in an update to the English Housing Survey released today (17th July) say they have no savings – with three in 10 now struggling to pay rent.

“High rents are making life miserable for private renters, forcing them to choose between going hungry or getting into debt,” said Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent.

Findings from the update include:

  • 29% of private renters said they found it difficult to pay their rent
  • 14% of private renters who had moved had been asked to leave or faced rent increases
  • 63% of private renters report having no savings;
  • Just over a third (37%) of private renters reported having some savings;
  • 11% of private renters had savings of £16,000 or more
  • Over half (58%) of private renters thought they would eventually buy a home;
  • Of the 42% of private renters who did not think they would eventually buy a home, most (68%) said this was because they could not afford to do so
  • While younger renters are still more common, the proportion of older household reference persons (HRPs) in the private rented sector has increased over the past decade;
  • In 2007-2008, 5% of HRPs aged 55-64 were privately renting. In 2017-18, this increased to 9%

“Even for those who can cover the rent, escaping the sector by moving into home ownership is a long way off – nearly two-thirds cannot save and just one in 10 have more than £16,000 in the bank,” said Wilson Craw.

“With millions of people growing older in private rented homes, the next prime minister must make it an acceptable long term tenure. That means protecting tenants from unfair evictions and rent rises, and doing what it takes to make rents affordable,” he said.

James Prestwich, NHF head of policy, said the survey “sheds yet more light” on the reality of the housing crisis, with almost half of all private renters now aged between 35-64, as more and more are stuck with private renting, which they aren’t satisfied with, and paying exorbitantly for it.

“[Where] the average renter spends a third of their income on rent, up to 42% in London, this has serious consequences as almost two-thirds of private renters have no savings to put down a deposit, or even support themselves through tough times,” said Prestwich.

“This is happening because, for decades, one government after another has failed to spend enough money on social housing.

“Now, millions of people are forced into expensive and insecure private renting, with no hope of saving for a home of their own.

“Ministers need to invest £12.8bn in social housing every year, effectively ending the housing crisis for millions of people,” he said. 

The survey stats show a rapid rise in number of households occupied by over-65s and that 20% of homes in which the oldest person is over 60 are damp, unsafe or in disrepair.

This comes as a parliamentary report warns the number of older households living in unfit and unsuitable private rented accommodation could surge in the next 20 years.

As reported by 24housing, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Care for Older People estimates that 1.1 million low-cost rented homes will be needed to adequately house older people by the late 2040s.

The ESH stats released today have prompted calls for urgent action to deliver decent later-life housing, with the stock of safe and suitable homes across England continuing to fail to keep up with rising numbers of older households.

“These figures confirm that England’s housing stock is still not fit for the future. The number of older households is rising sharply, and we simply do not have the homes they need to live safely and independently,” says Dr Rachael Docking, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better.

“Without urgent action from across the housing sector, a generation of older households face being trapped in dangerous homes.”

But the RLA says the stats “dispel the myth” that PRS means insecure tenancies and ever increasing costs.

“The survey finds that the large majority of those who moved out of their home did so because they wanted to, either for work, a larger home or to move to a different area (72%) or because their tenancy had come to an end (8%),” RLA policy director David Smith.

“A further 10% moved on mutual agreement with their landlord.”

Smith added: “Renters are spending less of their income on housing, at 33%, down from 34% the previous year and 36% in 2014/15, and are staying in their homes for over four years on average.

“[And] the majority (84%) of private renters also reported being satisfied with their current accommodation, higher than in the social rented sector,” he said.

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