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High rents forcing thousands into debt

Thousands of renters are being forced into debt by high rents and the tightening financial squeeze. More than 10,000 people contacted us for help with rent arrears in 2011 – an increase of 27 percent on the previous year.

A total of 10,246 people contacted us for help with rent arrears in 2011, compared to 8,074 in 2010. This represented 12 percent of our clients who are renting, up from one in 10 in 2010. On average, they owed £760 on their rent and were £82 short of the amount needed to cover living expenses each month.

Renters in arrears to private landlords were in the worst position, owing £924 in arrears and having a monthly budget deficit of £145. Renters in arrears to housing associations owed an average of £705, while the average for local authority tenants was £622. 

Our figures show that rents are rising at a time of stagnating incomes. The average rent paid by people contacting the charity for help rose by 2.4 percent to £408 per month last year, while the amount of money they had left over after meeting basic living expenses fell by 40 percent, from £58 to just £35.

A very large number of people are struggling to keep up with their rent payments – and with rents near record highs, the problem is getting worse, not better. That charity says that household finances are being squeezed as it is – and for many people another rent hike will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

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Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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