A new report analyses government figures to find that average private rents in the South East rose by three per cent from 2011 to 2012, equivalent to an increase of £297 in a year on a typical rented home. In the same period, the average wage in the South East rose by 1.8 per cent.
The report finds that high rents leave many renters with so little left over that they struggle to save for a deposit on a home of their own.
A survey of 4,300 renters in England commissioned by Shelter found that in the South East, more than half (54 per cent) say that after paying for rent and essential bills, they have just £100 or less left over each month for everything else.
As a result, three in four renters in the south east say that they are only able to put aside £50 or less each month in savings, leaving them with little hope of saving for a deposit. Worryingly, more than half of renters in the region say that they are not able to save any money at all.
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Census data released last month revealed a seismic shift towards renting over the last ten years, showing that the proportion of homes rented privately has rocketed by 69 per cent since 2001.
In the same period, the proportion of homes owned with a mortgage dropped by 15 per cent, as more and more people are priced out of homeownership.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “This report reveals the huge scale of the rent trap holding back young people and families in the South East. Rising rents are leaving people with little or nothing to save at the end of each month, giving them little chance of ever saving enough to climb on to the property ladder.
“The renters we speak to have never been less hopeful. A relentless stream of rent rises means that most feel they will never move on from a life paying ‘dead money’ to landlords, in a home that they can’t make their own. And for some, rising rents have more immediate consequences – not enough money to spend on food, fuel or other essentials.
“Unless something changes, the chances of the next generation getting a home to call their own look increasingly bleak. The government needs to show young people and families exactly how it plans to dismantle the rent trap for good.”