According to the housing charity, a third of private renters are now families with children and renting families are nine times more likely to have moved in the last year than families who own their own home, with 72% struggling or falling behind on their rents.
Many of these families are being forced to cut back on essentials to stay in their homes.
The report said that in the last year 28% of families have not had repairs carried out or had poor conditions dealt with by their landlord or letting agent.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “These stark findings prove that today’s volatile rental market is simply not fit for purpose. For the vast majority of renting parents, renting isn’t a lifestyle choice, yet for many it’s putting their children’s education, happiness and well-being in jeopardy.
“Making tenancy contracts more stable could improve the lives of children across the country by giving families more stability in their homes, and would give landlords a more predictable income.
“The nine million renters in this country deserve better. It’s high time we faced up to the fact that renting is no longer a stepping stone, but the only long-term option available to rising numbers of families. We have to give children growing up in rented homes a better deal.”
Shelter says that families will be trapped renting for the foreseeable future.
Research shows that 43% of renting families expect to be living in rented accommodation for the next ten years.
This is despite more than 2.2 million renters who do not or would not feel comfortable bringing their children up in a private rented home.
Jack Dromey, the Shadow Housing Minister, said: “Living a life of insecurity harms family life and blights the childhood of young people uprooted time and again from their schools and friends. Families must be able to plan where they send their kids to school and how they manage their household budgets.
“With longer term tenancies and predictable rents, the private rented sector can offer the affordable and stable homes that families need. The nine million renters in this country deserve a fair deal.”