Housing charity Shelter said of the 4.5 million households renting privately in England, 53% are either struggling to pay or falling behind on their rent.
On average private renters spend 41% of their gross income on rent, far higher than most homeowners spend on their mortgages.
As a result, Shelter said private renters are highly motivated by housing, ranking it in their top three issues – compared with seventh for the general public as a whole.
The proportion of registered private renters who turned out to vote in the 2017 election was 65% – up from 51% in 2015 – a jump greater than any other tenure. Private renters also had one of the biggest vote swings in 2017 towards Labour.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said it is not surprising that private renters are voting in greater numbers because of a deep dissatisfaction with housing.
“With little hope of benefiting from schemes like Help to Buy, struggling renters have been side-lined for too long. It’s not right that thousands of renters are dipping into hard-earned savings or getting into debt because huge chunks of their salary is being snatched away by eye-watering rents.
“Instead of leaving millions of private renters to hopelessly scrape by each month, we are calling on the government to end the freeze on housing benefit and commit to building decent homes at genuinely affordable rents.”