Four in 10 under-30s locked into rent contracts that exceed 30% of pay

Under-30s renters in Great Britain are facing a financial crisis, with the number paying an unaffordable share of their earnings to landlords hitting a five-year high, according to research.

Four in 10 young renters are locked into expensive new contracts that exceed 30% of their pay, a level that housing groups have said is too much to manage.

Research from the real estate consultancy Dataloft has found that while London has the highest rent levels in Great Britain, in places such as Rotherham, Bolton, Salford, Walsall and Dudley affordability is the worst for young people since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The data suggests that under-30s spend more of their earnings on rent than other working-age groups. With a lifestyle that means they are less likely to have dependents and are more willing to move around, many feel they can afford to pay more on lets.

Rapidly rising rents, which agents and property companies blame on a lack of supply, are forcing potential tenants to offer over the asking price, or renew deals at much higher levels, as people are willing to bid more than the listed price just to secure a property.

The rental crisis facing under-30s is adding to pressure on their finances as households face soaring energy and food bills, with inflation at a 40-year high.

Nick Gallent, a professor of housing and planning at University College London, told the BBC that young people being locked into expensive renting now could cause future problems because “their lives evolve but they need to live with instability and insecurity”. He said: “Despite all the economic problems, house prices and rents continue to nudge upwards.”

In one in six local authorities across England, Wales and Scotland for which there was enough data, most young renters were spending more than 30% of their earnings on their housing, according to analysis of Dataloft figures for the year to the end of June.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said it recognised people were facing cost of living pressures and that paying rent was likely to be a tenant’s biggest monthly expense.

“That is why we have taken action through our £37bn support package to help households with rising costs,” it said.