Fewer than one in five private rental properties in England were within the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates last year, according to new joint research by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Shelter.
The groups say the average renter now faces a £151 monthly shortfall because the allowance fails to cover their costs – with the figure set to rise even further.
The LHA, which is set by the Valuation Office Agency, determines how much housing benefit some tenants receive towards paying their rent, but it has been frozen since 2019.
In every local area, LHA fails to cover the cost of the cheapest 30% of two-bedroom family homes, according to the research, and in some parts of the South West one in 10 or fewer two-bedroom rents are affordable.
The issue is not confined to the south however, as there are low numbers of affordable two-bedroom rents in the north too; just 9% in Leeds, 10% in Bolton and 5% in Tameside.
Huge shortfalls Charlie Berry (pictured), policy officer at Shelter, says these huge shortfalls leave private renters at high risk of going into rent arrears and push families towards homelessness.
“With fewer and fewer affordable private rentals for people on housing benefit and a severe shortage of social housing, we are sadly left with a homelessness crisis,” she adds.
“The evidence is clear: the government must end the damaging freeze to local housing allowance which is leaving low-income families with nowhere they can afford to call home.”
Earlier this year, the NRLA criticised the government for its complacent attitude to the LHA freeze and its effect on both tenants and landlords, following an admission by Work and Pensions Minister Mims Davies MP that he had made no estimate of the number of people unable to meet their housing costs due to the freeze.
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