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What proportion of your wages should be considered an 'affordable' rent payment?

Rent Guarantor Mar 23, 2020

When it comes to paying rent, the word affordability is often used to describe different areas. Rents in central London aren't considered affordable for the majority of workers, while the outskirts of the city is more affordable for a larger number of people. However, a proptech firm has described affordable rent as 50% of earnings, a claim which some may not agree with.

By calculating that where a tenant spends 50% or less of their earnings on rent as affordable, much of the rental market across England could be classed as such. However, the research bases its average earnings on the 22-29-year-old bracket and doesn’t include older tenants or benefit claimants.

Although the research may not be quite as in-depth or comprehensive as it could be, the idea of 50% of earnings spent on rent as being affordable actually compares well with a number of European cities. The average rent in some cities has been calculated as closer to 75% of average earnings for the area – that’s certainly not a figure that could be considered as affordable!

Most affordable regions to rent in the UK

Based on the 50% threshold, some 61% of the UK is currently home to rental levels that are ‘affordable’. The most inexpensive places to rent are in Wales. At just 28% of the average income, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent are the most affordable areas to rent across the UK.

Looking to England, Burnley is the most affordable town there, with an average monthly rent at 30% of earnings. Meanwhile in Scotland, renting a home in Dumfries and Galloway will cost 31% of your earnings.

Moving to the north east of England, south Tyneside is the most affordable place to rent where it will cost 33% of average earnings, while Waveney in the east of England is the most affordable in that region, at 34%.

Moving south, the most affordable rent is 40% of earnings and can be found in Folkstone and Hythe. Meanwhile, in the south west 40% is also the most affordable level of rent, found in Torridge. For London, however, the area where rent is the lowest proportion of earnings is in Bexley, but it is considered unaffordable as it sits at 52%.

While we’ve picked out the most affordable regions across the UK, there are a growing number of areas where renting is increasingly expensive. That’s a trend which will likely continue.

“A lack of wage growth to keep pace with the increasing cost of renting is resulting in more of the nation’s tenants paying above the 50% affordability threshold when it comes to the proportion of salary spent on rent,” said proptech firm Howsy’s founder and CEO, Calum Brannan.

“Of course, affordability is always going to be a problem in some areas, but a vast majority of areas in Britain still remain realistic as rental locations for the nation’s youngest tenants,” Brannan adds.

UK still affordable on a broader scale

Although 39% of UK regions could be considered as unaffordable to rent a home, much of the UK currently still compares pretty well with some other popular countries and cities.

Separate research from Spotahome shows that while its data shows the average London rent equates to around 68% of average earnings, that figure is much higher in some other cities:

  • Lisbon average rents are 80.9% of income.
  • Malta average rents are 75.9% of income.
  • Dublin average rents are 65.9% of income.

Of course, London still remains expensive on both a national and international basis. However, it’s reassuring to see that it still isn’t the most expensive across Europe.

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