A staggering 250,000 private renting families in England are becoming burdened with serious debt because they have to move house so frequently, according to Shelter.
New research from the housing charity says private renting is so unstable, short and expensive that families are being forced to move too frequently.
One in four (255,944) renting families are taking on bank debts such as credit cards and overdrafts, and sometimes even payday loans, to cover the cost of constant home hopping. These debts make renters more vulnerable to changes in the economy and potential rises in interest rates.
On average, each family has to pay out more than £1,400 in move costs for things like removal vans, paying rent on two properties, cleaning costs and having to buy new furniture.
Sadly, the research also shows that 44% of renting families worry about losing their home – shedding light on the psychological impact and torment caused by short unstable contracts.
Shelter is calling on the government to introduce five year tenancies as standard which would help renters clear their debt and give millions of families more security.
Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive, said:
“It’s heart breaking that families are being forced into unaffordable debt just to cover all the costs of moving house so frequently, thanks to short unstable contracts.
“We speak to parents every day who want nothing more than to have control over their lives, and provide stability – both financially and in a settled home – for their children, but instead are constantly forced into packing up and moving on.
“The government can change all this by updating laws to offer renters longer and more stable contracts, giving them and their children a secure place to call home and a brighter future.”
Emma is a studying to be a teacher and rents in Folkestone with her husband and three children. She says having to keep moving home has driven her further and further into credit card debt.
“The first few times we moved we could borrow from family to cover the costs, but we have had to move so often that we now have to use credit cards and loans. Obviously, unlike with family and friends, these loans have fees and interest attached that can be really hard to pay back.
“Currently we have about £15,000 in debt because we're having to move home every one or two years. About four years ago we took out one lower interest bank loan to try and pay all these debts off, but because we’ve had to carry on moving home, the costs have racked up and again we are back to square one.
“I know that if me and my family had a home to rent for five years or more we could save the money to pay these debts off. But until that happens, we worry that yet another forced move is around the corner, meaning more debts and this spiral will just continue.”