More than a third (35%) of private renters would last less than a month on their savings, compared to one in six (17%) of those with a mortgage, and one in 20 (6%) of those who own outright, according to Hargreaves Lansdown.
The resilience gap between renters and owners was found to grow over time, and was the biggest among over-65s.
Only one in five (19%) private renters said their finances were in good shape, compared to half (50%) of those who own their own home outright, and a third (35%) of those with a mortgage.
Just over a quarter (26%) of property owners saved less than £50 a month, compared to just under half (48%) of renters.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Generation rent is being wrung dry, and the spending squeeze is making it worse.
“Only one in five say their finances are in good shape and more than one in three couldn’t last a month on their savings.
“Their finances are on a knife edge, so even the smallest surprise runs the risk of causing financial chaos.
“Fortunately, there are ways to build your resilience, even when you’re renting.
“You might think this is a problem for young renters, and is just a function of starting out in life with a relatively low income and higher outgoings, before you’ve had the chance to build up any savings.
“However, the savings gap between renters and owners actually grows as we get older, and is highest among those aged 65 and over.
“If you’re part of generation rent, you need to improve your resilience right now, because it’s not automatically going to get easier over time.
“Renters have to work much harder to build their resilience, because they’re hamstrung by the fact they spend far more of their income on rent than owners spend on the mortgage.
“On average, almost 30% of their income goes on rent, compared to less than 20% for those with a mortgage.
“It means there’s far less in the budget to save for emergencies.
“Working people should have three-six months’ worth of essential expenses in an easy access account just in case of nasty surprises, and retirees should have one-three years’ worth, which can seem like a mountain to climb when you’re only just making ends meet.
“The spending squeeze has made everything harder, with the cost of everything from petrol to energy bills and food going through the roof.
“However, there are still some techniques we can use to free up enough cash to put a little aside every month to build our resilience.”