Private renters in London spent 40 percent of their income, on average, on rent, according to findings from the 2018/2019 English Housing Survey.
Published today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the survey also finds that London's private renters spent the highest percentage of their wage on rent compared to the rest of the country. Outside London, the average percentage of household income spent on rent was 33 percent.
Private renters in London paid on average £341 a week (£1,364 a month) on rent. This was 71 percent higher than the national average.
The survey also showed the percentage of renters by region paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent – a percentage often used to measure the affordability of property. London was the highest, with 57 percent of private renters paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent, followed by the south east of England, the east of England and the south west of England. The region with the smallest proportion of private renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent was the north east, where only 25 percent of renters spent over 30 percent of their income on rent.
In every region except one, private renters were more likely to spend a greater percentage of their household income on rent than homeowners with mortgages or social renters – those living in homes managed by local authorities, housing associations or charities.
According to the survey, spending over 30 percent of your household income on rent “is thought to lead to housing stress, because if households pay much more than this for housing, they could struggle to pay for other bills and necessities.” Statistically, private renters (compared to social renters or those buying a house with a mortgage) were more likely to spend over 30 percent of their income on rent.
It's worth noting that the English Housing Survey was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted the country's housing and renting market dramatically. The virus has placed many private renters (who are likely to be less affluent, according to the survey) in even more precarious positions, with some now at risk of homelessness. After Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget yesterday, which aided potential house buyers but made no mention of private renters, many are calling on the government to do more.
“A third of private renters were struggling with housing costs even before the pandemic, and the numbers will only have surged since March,” Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of Generation Rent tells VICE News. “Despite the government’s measures, thousands are unable to get adequate support through the welfare system thanks to caps or eligibility restrictions. These renters are racking up arrears and face homelessness when the eviction ban is lifted next month unless the government commits to ending the rent debt crisis.”