Skip to main content

Search Housing Rights

Renters’ Voice research shows impact of cost of living crisis on private renters

Renters' Voice survey finds the crisis has severely impacted private tenants and government action is sorely needed. 

Renters’ Voice carried out a survey in October 2022 to find out how the cost of living crisis has impacted private renters. We followed this up with another survey in February 2023 to assess the impact of the crisis over the winter months. 

Our findings painted a stark picture for private tenants. Respondents across both surveys are struggling to cover all their essentials and are spending large portions of their income on rent while rent continues to rise. This is taking a huge mental and physical toll on private renters who need government action. 

People can’t afford their homes

Across both surveys, we found that a high proportion of our respondents, 50% in October and 47% in February are paying over 40% of their income on rent. This has led to a majority in both surveys revealing that they currently cannot cover all their essential household bills. As a result, renters, whose finances are already stretched, are prioritising rental payments over electricity, heating, and groceries. This is in the context of a rental sector that has seen huge increases in rent levels since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cost of renting crisis: the impact on physical and mental health

Given this financial strain, it’s not surprising that respondents were very concerned about their future as private tenants. 44% in February stated that they did not believe that their renting situation was sustainable should the crisis continue. This, coupled with the fact that renters are cutting back on expenses to meet rent may explain why 97% of respondents stated in October that they are worried about their paying their bills. Sadly, we also found that a high proportion of respondents reported that their physical and mental health has worsened as a direct result of the cost –of living crisis with one tenant writing that: 

I was already depressed, but the concerns surrounding my living situation now mean that I need antidepressants. Not knowing where I'm going to live when the contract needs renewed is too much to deal with.

Government action needed to control rent levels 

Perhaps unsurprisingly 83 % of respondents stated they believe that the government is not doing enough to resolve the crisis in our February Survey. Respondents welcomed the recent Winter Fuel Payment which saw people in Northern Ireland receive a grant of up to £600 to offset hikes in fuel prices. While such measures were popular, government-enforced rent control was the most favoured form of intervention across both surveys. 

Renters’ Voice is a group for people renting privately in Northern Ireland. We aim to build a strong voice for tenants and advocate for positive reforms for private renters. We’d encourage you to share this blog on social media, with family, friends, politicians and stakeholders.