Ome launches wellbeing helpline as rental unaffordability rises

Jessica Bird

May 14, 2020

rental unaffordability cost

For those tenants who have been furloughed from their jobs due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, rental unaffordability has risen by as much as 94% in some areas of the UK, according to research by rental deposit replacement scheme Ome. 

Ome has therefore brought forward the launch of its free Rental Wellbeing Helpline, as a result of its latest research highlighting the sharp increase in the cost of renting for many UK tenants.

The research looked at the change for furloughed tenants based on the increase between the percentage of monthly net income normally required to cover the cost of renting, and the percentage required for those now receiving either 80% of normal wages, or the furlough wage cap of £2,500 per month.

The data shows that, with average UK rent at £959, the average tenant was paying 47% of monthly net income; those on furlough are now paying 57%.

This increase doubles in London, where tenants were already paying 64% of net income on rent; here, those on furlough have seen increase to 85% of their monthly income.

London accounts for 12 of the 15 areas with the largest jumps in rental unaffordability.

The worst affected area is Kensington and Chelsea, where rent now accounts for 152% of average monthly wages, a jump of 94 percentage points.

Westminster (up 76 points), Camden (up 52 points), Richmond (up 43 points), Hammersmith and Fulham (up 40 points) and Wandsworth (up 39 points) have also seen some of the largest increases, with rent now accounting for upward of 93% of income for those on furlough.

Outside of London, Elmbridge has seen an increase from 51% to 89% for those on furlough.

Sevenoaks (up 23 points), St Albans (up 21 points), Guildford (up 21 points) and Chiltern (up 19 points) have also seen some of the largest jumps outside of the capital.

The Ome helpline gives tenants access to a free legal helpline to receive advice on legal or debt-related matters.

The helpline will also provide a free counselling and health information service for those who may be suffering with their mental or physical wellbeing.

Matthew Hooker, co-founder of Ome, said: “Rental affordability can make concerning reading at the best of times, so those who have found themselves furloughed through no fault of their own will likely be feeling the squeeze where their finances are concerned.

“As a result, we’ve brought forward the launch of our Rental Wellbeing Helpline to provide a resource for advice and information for those worried about their current situation.

“The helpline will provide free access to advice for those struggling with legal or debt related issues, but also a counselling service for those that are struggling with their mental or physical health during the lockdown.

“While this launch was always on the Ome roadmap, we’ve accelerated its delivery as we felt it was pertinent in the current landscape.

“Whatever your rental worry, there’s plenty of help on hand across the industry and so we would urge any tenants with questions, queries or concerns to share their burden with people that can help.”

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