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Pity The Poor Renter - analyst says tenants face tough conditions

An Office of National Statistics survey shows that the top three issues facing the UK are still the cost-of-living crisis (89%), the NHS (88%) and the economy (70%), but now housing is fourth at 64%.

The proportion of people who voiced housing concerns has risen from 53% in late October and early November 2022, to 64% today.

Two in five (41%) say their rent or mortgage has risen in the past six months (27% in March 2022).


A third (36%) say it’s difficult to afford the rent or mortgage (30% in March 2022).

Analysing this, Sarah Coles - head of personal finance at business consultancy Hargreaves Lansdown - says: “Housing is more of a pressing concern for people than crime, climate change and immigration. Almost two in three people now say it’s a key issue facing the UK – not far behind the cost-of-living crisis, the NHS and the economy. 

“And it’s hardly surprising. Housing costs are putting anyone paying a mortgage under increasing pressure. Over 1.4m people remorgaged from a fixed rate mortgage last year – more than half were coming off rates under 2%, and were facing rates closer to 5%. 

“Right now, Moneyfacts figures show the average two-year fixed-rate mortgage costs 5.94% - alarmingly close to 6%. It’s no wonder figures from the Hargreaves Lansdown Savings & Resilience Barometer show that one in four people with a mortgage are at risk of falling into arrears by the end of the year, and that ONS figures show a third of people say it’s difficult to afford the rent or mortgage.

“Life is even tougher for renters. For months now we’ve seen landlords voting with their feet and leaving the property market, while the number of tenants continues to build. 

“It means average rents are up by around 10% in a year. For those facing such a massive hike, it’s no wonder that the rent is such a stretch. 

“Average rents tend to be lower than average mortgage payments – and private rents tend to be similar to mortgage payments - but renters are on lower average incomes, so their housing costs swallow a much bigger slice of their income.

“It’s taking a massive toll on the short-term financial resilience of renters. The Barometer shows they have around £193 left at the end of the month, compared to those with mortgages who have £353 left. 

“As a result, fewer than half of renters have enough savings put aside – compared to almost three quarters of mortgagees. It bodes badly for the future too, because only 18% of renters are on track for a moderate retirement income, compared to 55% of mortgagees and 51% of outright owners.

“Over time, we can hope that falling interest rates take some of the pain out of the mortgage market. However, for renters it’s hard to see how life will get better while the market gets increasingly unbalanced with every passing month.

“It means we can’t afford to wait for change in order to improve our situation. Anyone who has not yet drawn up a budget of everything coming in, and everything they’re spending needs to get cracking. 

“It feels like boring admin, but after your income has been squeezed for so long, you will have done the easy cost-cutting things that spring to mind. We’re now at the stage of digging deeper for savings.

“Nobody is pretending this is easy, but if you can free up just a small sum of cash to pay down debts, build emergency savings, or contribute to a pension or a SIPP, you can help ensure that a major problem facing the UK today doesn’t become a major issue for your finances for the foreseeable future.”


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