Landlords and housing groups lock horns amid claims that high rents are pushing tenants into poverty

High rents are being blamed for pushing families into poverty.

Research by the National Housing Federation (NHF) found that 53% of private rented sector households in poverty – defined as having an income below 60% of the national median – were not in poverty before paying their rent.

In the private rented sector, 44% of households with one or more children were in poverty after their rent is paid, while a third were living in poverty even though one or more adults in the household work full time, the research claims.

The NHF suggested that savings would be made in housing benefit and tenants would be helped to get out of poverty if they were offered homes at a social rather than market rent.

Using Valuation Office Agency (VOA) data, the NHF claims tenants in poverty could pay a social rent of £415.53 on average in England compared with £820 on the open market.

These figures are, however, based on ONS and VOA data from 2015 and 2016.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF, said: “It is a disgrace that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world we cannot provide our children with a secure and affordable home.

“The critical lack of social housing is pushing more and more families into poverty by forcing them into insecure privately rented homes they cannot afford.

“It’s so obvious that we need to be building more social housing and the Government has a duty to our children to invest in this. This means increasing funding for social housing and urgently reforming the way that land is sold in this country.

“We will only be able to build desperately needed social homes for children living in poverty if housing associations have access to land instead of the current situation where they are forced to bid directly against private developers who make millions from luxury properties.”

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said some of the blame for tenants being pushed into poverty should be put at the Government’s door.

Chris Town, vice-chair of the RLA, said: “The biggest driver of poverty in the private rented sector remains the Government’s freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates.

“Support for housing costs is simply failing to keep up with the realities of rented housing and we call on the Government to use its spending review to drop the freeze.”


Email the story to a friend


  1. JamesB

    and yet government put policies in place to drive landlords out and push supply down and rents up ? 

    Chasing generation rent votes at any cost

  2. kittygirl06

    Housing assoc don’t want benefit tenants and take the working tenants from temp accommodation first.   This is even when they have trashed PRS housing and been evicted for rent arrears and damage. The reason Ucredit and the amount of rent arrears due to this. I thought the purpose of HA was to house the low paid or ones not able to work. It appears the structure as changed and they now are competing with the PRS. But they get much better terms even when renting at 20% below market rents.  They don’t for one have section 24 and can they not borrow from government on favourable terms?    

  3. JMK

    Crazy arguments again hitting the PRS.  When will the fog be lifted from people’s eyes???

    HAs don’t pay tax!  So immediately a landlord is disadvantaged as he has to pay tax on profit.  Only it’s not just on profit anymore is it?  Now landlords have to pay tax on a cost too!

    Then there’s Selective Licensing which HAs, or even housing companies owned by councils don’t face.

    So Ms Henderson wake up and smell the coffee!  Most full-time landlords never increased rents on sitting tenants – ever!  Now they’re being forced to thanks to Government policies.  But unless you change the way social housing works, simply building more isn’t good enough because the providers don’t want the low income earners either.

    1. JamesB

      Very good points .. and ignored by government and their propaganda machine yes

  4. Paul

    “Research by the National Housing Federation (NHF) found that 53% of private rented sector households in poverty – defined as having an income below 60% of the national median – were not in poverty before paying their rent.”

    So if they were paying a mortgage instead they would have been in the same boat then?!  Sound’s like we need to blame landlords, mortgage companies and house builders?!

    What next, before I paid the gas, electric, car, bought food and the train ticket, I was rolling in it, now I’ve had to pay all this stuff I’m in poverty!!!

    The PRS has taken up the slack for years, but rather than assist this sector, the government has slowly sucked the life out it.  Now we are in a situation where many have left and the majority of those who remain, will have no choice but to raise rents to combat the raft of obstacles put in their way.

    The supply of affordable housing is the responsibility of the government and I agree it should be a priority. The blame however should not be laid at anyone else’s door. The problem is bigger than rents and house prices and includes the broader economy, but this type of headline is a much quicker and shocking way to help the individuals get their message out their, rather than dealing with the real issues at hand. Until that happens, i.e. we really do tackle the problem, then we will continue the way we are……

  5. Peter Hendry

    All valid comments so far. This is a complex and societal problem.

    Instead of addressing it, successive governments have fudged the issues and also tried to blame both the public and private sectors for no reason other than to sew confusion.

    What is actually needed is to ‘reform’ the way housing marketplaces function up and down our great country.  The need for this is now long overdue.

    I’m glad the NHF and RLA are looking to address the causes and effects of these issues.

    I wrote, in my blog on 23rd of Feb: “Structural/financial improvements are needed to be applied to all housing markets across England and Wales to avoid homelessness.”

    A new approach is needed and there, fully explained, is the direction to take in order to achieve that: – A housing market, local to all applicants, which serves to allow the more disadvantaged a better chance to compete, if they are genuine and committed.  There is no other way forward.

    What sort of society are we if we are only interested in assisting those with the most amount of wealth?  We need to go one better.

    I hope someone responsible enough to act reads this and looks into the practical answers to what is a festering abscess within our modern-day society.


  6. seenitall



    Listened to this on Radio 4 the other day and the person spouting poverty and who produced this report didnt even know what the median salary was.    Just that 60% were below poverty in renting.


    That old Chestnut – Poverty.      Not absolute poverty but modem day poverty.    60% lower then the median of £27300.   which is £16380  £1365  – if you are on this then you are in poverty.


    Min wage for a FT person is £1272 before tax      So yes if you are renting at min wage on 1x person renting you are going to be technically classed as in Poverty.

    As this type of Poverty is as a % of the whole you will always have a % in the lower 40% .   If every body working in the UK had a pay rise of £250000   you will still get 40% of those people classed as still in Poverty.

    It statistics and lies.




  7. markus

    But don’t dare say that immigration/migration is part of the problem or you’ll be castigated as racist. You cannot have net immigration of over a quarter of a million people per year without the appropriate investment in housing. You cannot have one area of the country being the focus without increasing the number of people wanting to be there without the appropriate investment in housing. If there isn’t, then rents/house prices are only going one way and that isn’t down.

    1. Benfield

      You are quite right Markus. It was bonkers that the Local Councils started to allow all the Immigrants arriving to apply for the Council stock of accommodation. We already had thousands of people locally on the waiting list and absolutely no-where near enough new builds being built to keep up.

      Without the workforce from overseas, many of our Industries would get decimated, care and construction especially. So we need these workers. It is paramount that an extensive building program is under way, we need millions more homes, at much lower prices, both for buyers and tenants. Thing is, the House-builders wont want to see lower prices as it will hit profit. Nor the Institutes getting behind Build to Rent.

      The Government has to hand more power and funds to the Councils to get on with it. Or, even better, bring back Self Build where the people can organise it themselves. With Peoples banks that lend the money out.

  8. Woodentop

    The NHF suggested that savings would be made in housing benefit and tenants would be helped to get out of poverty if they were offered homes at a social rather than market rent.


    Music to Labours ears .. rent capping is becoming more obvious and a vote winner at the next election. OMG state take over of a free and private market. The private sector was never intended to be “social housing” but many have been using it to prop-up decades of poor management of government run by all political parties. What a mess.

  9. natural_selection

    Some great comments, I totally agree, I would even go as far to say we are on the verge of a national emergency if we do not take drastic action as soon as possible.

    We have a crazy situation where there’s a housing crisis in many parts of the country (mainly the south), yet tens of thousands of homes sat empty in the north (so badly dilapidated they are now unusable). Last year saw record levels of people sleeping rough in London and record numbers of tenants being pushed in to poverty or financial distress. Yet the government is doing all it can to kill the golden goose, disincentivising small to medium private landlords while pandering to their institutional investor buddies (mostly old school mates I imagine) that have shown little in the way of viable solutions. However, as others have mentioned, the biggest issue is successive failure to build new social housing, and much of the social housing made available is going (IMO) to the wrong people.

    Mass immigration is more of an issue than just exacerbating the supply and demand problem. We have allowed massively unnatural population growth by way of mass immigration (this is very different to limited & controlled immigration), resulting in our demographics being a complete mess. Unnatural demographics means we cannot effectively plan for schools, hospitals and social care, plus the social fabric of local communities getting completely torn apart. Put simply, even if we were able to build the required housing in the required areas, we do not have the infrastructure to support it.


You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.