HOME renters in Southend and Basildon say they are being squeezed from both sides as rent has increased by 25 per cent in seven years while wages have only increased by 5 per cent

New figures were published in a report which shows how the burden on tenants across Essex and the east of England is vastly outstriping any salary rises since 2011.

In Southend, the average price of a two-bed flat is £800-a-month which is a 23.1 per cent increase. The statistics show the average salary increase in the same time was 9.4 per cent.

In Basildon, the average price of a two-bed flat is £900-a-month, which is 24.1 per cent uplift. The average salary increase in the same time was 5.1 per cent.

Jenny Soloman, 31, from Westcliff, said: “It may not seem like a huge increase from 2011 but to think that in 2009 I rented a one-bedroom flat in Westcliff for £425, and in 2012 I rented a two-bedroom flat in Westcliff for £550, and now I am paying £850 rent on a two-bedroom flat is a massive jump.

“I still earn near enough the same now as what I did seven or eight years ago. Of course costs for everything are going up, but it is so difficult to rent something that’s up to standard and a decent price.”

Renter, Jamie Matters, 28, of Lifstan Way, Southend, rents a two-bed property with his girlfriend. while working in a supermarket.

He said: “It is quite worrying to hear really. In all honesty it is not surprising, but the size of the difference is worrying.

“When you think about it, over the last five years my rent has increased, not by a huge amount, but there is an increase most years, and then my wage has gone up by pennies, there has been no major increase at all.”

But Tony Prior, owner of Prior Property Management, in Chalkwell, said the increase is reasonable.

He said: “The trouble is, because of all recent legislation which is effectively piling all of the costs of letting and renting onto landlords and agents, those costs have to go somewhere, which forces the prices higher. What the Government has done is not helping tenants, landlords, or agents. There are additional expenses landlords have to pay now, such as EPC, and gas certificates.

“An increase in rent of 3 per cent a year is reasonable.

“Rather than pay London rates which are considerably higher people are renting from suburbs like Southend. And look at Leigh – it was labelled the happiest place to live in. You have to pay a premium for that.”

Mike Gray, from property consultants Dedman Grays, in Thorpe Bay, added: “It certainly seems that rental levels have recently peaked at the highest level for years, not only compared with salary increases, but bearing in mind interest rates for mortgages are still very low, the monthly rentals are beginning to look very expensive compared with mortgage repayments.

“Pressure has been put on landlords for achieving maximum rent when the Government increased stamp duty on buy-to-let purchases and also reduced the tax relief that landlords can claim on interest paid on their loans.

“A number of tenants will be renting because they don’t have the savings for a deposit for a mortgage, but a frustrating factor is that those who are renting are saving to get onto the property ladder are finding it extremely difficult to do this while paying higher rents that they used to.”