The Debt Advisory Centre said 35% of those surveyed had been forced to take out a high interest short-term loan in the past 12 months to meet housing costs.
An additional 13% also took out a payday loan to fund a one-off emergency such as boiler repairs, the survey found.
However, the most common use for a payday loan was to buy essentials such as food and travel.
In total some 3.5m people in the UK have taken out a payday loan in the last 12 months, representing 7% of the population.
Men are more likely to take out a payday loan with 9% accessing such finance in the last year compared with 5% of women.
There is also a bias towards younger borrowers with 17% of 25-34 year olds admitting to having taken out a payday loan. This compares to 3.6% of people aged 45-54.
Ian Williams, spokesman for the Debt Advisory Centre, said: “Many people who are struggling with money problems often put off tackling them – for example, believing that if they can just borrow some money to get through this month, then things will be better next month.
“However, for a great many people that simply isn’t true: if you have got to the stage where you need to borrow money to buy food or pay the rent, a loan isn’t the solution – it is time to seek expert help with you finances.”