The survey of 4,300 private renters – the biggest of its kind ever conducted – also shows the knock-on effect rising rents are having on family life.
1 in 3 renters are cutting back on birthday and Christmas presents.
1 in 4 renting families are visiting family and friends less.
1 in 7 renters have used a credit card to pay their rent.
1 in 12 renting parents have borrowed money from their children to pay the rent.
The study also revealed 6% of renters, the equivalent of almost 515,000 people, had been forced to move home because of a rent rise.
Pressure on the rental market is growing, with over nine million people now renting their home from a private landlord. This demand has pushed up rents, which rose by an average of almost £300 last year in England, while wages remained stagnant.
Shelter is calling for Stable Rental Contracts to be brought in, to give renting families a chance to plan their finances and put down roots in their home.
Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: ‘This is proof that the growing cost of renting is hitting families where it hurts, forcing them to make impossible choices about what they can cut back on next.
‘When families are forced to resort to taking money from their children’s savings or paying their rent on a credit card, it’s a clear sign that sudden rent rises are pushing many ordinary families to the edge.
‘If the Government wants to make life easier for ordinary families, it has to reform our expensive, unstable rental market.’
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