Almost one million people have had to take out a payday loan at 4,000% within the last year to pay their rent or mortgage.
In total, seven million borrowers and tenants are relying on some form of credit to pay their housing costs.
As well as payday loans, struggling borrowers and tenants are taking out unauthorised overdrafts and other loans, or using credit cards.
A survey carried out by YouGov for Shelter last month asked 4,014 people if they had used these forms of credit to help pay their rent or mortgage in the last 12 months.
One in seven respondents (15%) said yes.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “These shocking findings show the extent to which millions of households across the country are desperately struggling to keep their home.
“Turning to short-term payday loans to help pay for the cost of housing is totally unsustainable.”
Martin Lewis, of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “The UK is the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow for the world’s payday lenders.
“They’ve been regulated out of other countries and jump for joy at our lax supervision.
“That’s why these 4,000% APR lenders are exploding across British high streets. Yet these astronomical APRs aren’t the real danger – that comes from the rollover. This is where people can’t repay at the end of the month and compound interest kicks in.
“It’s incredibly worrying there’s now evidence of people using payday loans to meet housing costs. Many struggling with core rent or mortgage commitments will struggle to repay payday loans on time too.”