Helping private renters avoid “housing stress” in London

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Helping private renters avoid “housing stress” in London

13th July 2021

The stress of unaffordable housing for private renters in London is made very clear from the new English Housing Survey. How can we reduce that stress and find secure and settled homes for families?

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Private renters in London spend 42% of their household income on rent. The England average is 32%.

Spending over 30% of your income on rent is considered an important affordability threshold, according to the English Housing Survey report published by the government. The lower your income, the harder that percentage hits. Households with low incomes and proportionately high rents are at risk of “housing stress”.

The government statisticians use a 30/40 rule to show the impact of high rents on low-income households, including benefits. They look at the 40% of households in the lowest income brackets paying more than 30% of their income on rent. 

Now for the first time, the survey breaks this unaffordability measure down by region. Nationally a little over two-thirds (69%) of low earners pay more than 30% on rent. In London, it is pretty much every household – an alarming 93%.

Other results from the survey further highlight the challenges for renters on low incomes and claiming benefits. Nearly one in ten (9%) said they had been turned down for a property because they claim benefits.

Private renters who received housing benefits were more likely to have had arrears. They are also more like to be in non-decent or overcrowded homes.

The overall picture from the English Housing Survey is that the private rental sector is a vitally important tenure for families on low incomes and reducing homelessness. But we need to do more to avoid “housing stress” for private renters on low incomes in London, particularly those claiming benefits.

The market won’t do this on its own. That’s why Capital Letters was set up to work with councils in and responsible landlords in London to find good-quality accommodation for families at risk of homelessness, with thorough assessments to ensure the rent is affordable before they move in. 

And once they do move into their new home, we provide essential support for both families and landlords to reduce the risks of “housing stress” by helping with benefit claims and other problems that can derail a tenancy, avoiding the distress of repeat homelessness.

Find out how we work with landlords and councils in London to find secure and settled home for families here.

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