A debt charity is calling on the government to introduce stronger protections for tenants who fall behind on their rent.
StepChange's survey found that private renters struggled to afford their homes more than any other housing tenure, with one in six (1.2 million people) relying on credit to make ends meet.
It reveals that 15% of private renters (1.1 million people) are now in problem debt, compared to 8% of the general population, up from 11% in January.
The charity blames private landlords for often clawing back rent arrears at an unaffordable rate and adds that they are less likely than social landlords to signpost tenants to support.
Knock-on effects of the resulting stress manifest themselves in poor health and wellbeing, with three in four (75%) private renters saying that they or their family had been negatively affected by housing issues, according to StepChange.
It wants the government to increase funding to help struggling PRS renters. Extra discretionary funding should be matched by a strategy to increase access to support for those in financial difficulty and vulnerable circumstances, says StepChange, while the government should restore housing benefit to cover the real cost of rent.
Ensuring that tenants have access to support and free debt advice as well as affordable repayment plans should also prevent unnecessary '�hair-trigger' evictions '� those on the grounds of rent arrears.
Director of external affairs, Richard Lane (main picture), believes more could be done to protect those who should be in socially rented accommodation but have no hope of accessing it.
'Unless we see benefits that cover the real cost of renting, alongside strengthened rules that protect financially vulnerable tenants who fall behind on their rent, the cycle of debt and housing insecurity will be doomed to repeat itself for millions of people,'� he adds.