You may be forgiven for thinking that rent takes up an ever-greater proportion of tenants’ income - but new figures out today show that is far from true.
The Residential Landlords Association, analysing data in the most recent English Housing Survey for 2017/18, says the proportion of income spent on rent in the private rented sector has fallen from 35.4 per cent in 2010/11 to 32.9 per cent in 2017/18.
Including income from housing benefit, over the same period the amount of income used for rent by social tenants increased from 26.7 per cent to 28 per cent.
The figures show that over the 10 years between 2008/09 and 2017/18, average weekly rents across England (excluding London) in the private rented sector increased by 22 per cent, nearly half the increase of 43 per cent in rent in the social housing sector.
In London, private rents increased by an average of 34 per cent compared to 55 per cent in the social sector.
The figures come as the Office for National Statistics has reported that rents are falling in real terms and the government’s 2018 survey of landlords found that 70 per cent kept their rents the same when they most recently renewed a tenancy, showing that landlords prioritise keeping good tenants for a long term.
The RLA is warning of the risks now posed to improved affordability in the private rented sector as a result of changes such as those to benefits and increased taxation driving landlords out of the market.
The association says the government’s data shows that over 15 per cent of private landlords in England - representing more than 23 per cent of all tenancies in the country - plan to either decrease the number of properties they let or leave the market altogether. Of this group, almost 70 per cent said it was due to legislative changes, including the phased reduction of mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax and the three per cent stamp duty surcharge on investment in new rental housing.
This reduction in the supply of private rented housing comes at a time when demand for new rental housing shows no signs of abating with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors saying that demand “remains more or less steady.”
Alan Ward, Chair of the Residential Landlords Association says: “This data shows that the private rented sector is becoming more affordable, demonstrating the folly that forms of rent controls would be.”
However, he warns that danger signs exist.
“Tax increases are choking the supply of homes to rent. Landlords like to keep their tenants who benefit from lower or no rent increases when tenancies are renewed, but fewer homes for rent means less choice for new tenants.
“We need positive, pro-growth taxation that supports landlords investing in the new homes to rent the country desperately needs.”