Tenants who were renting alone in Brighton and Hove were spending a third of their pre-tax pay on housing costs before the cost-of-living pushed up costs, according to official figures.
The median monthly rent for a one-bed property in Brighton and Hove stood at £900 in the 12 months to March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
And separate ONS figures suggested that the median wage of full-time employees in the area was £32,816 a year in 2021.
It means that the average middle-income worker living alone in Brighton and Hove was spending about 33 per cent of their income on rent last year.
Median rent across all property types in Brighton and Hove rose slightly from £1,095 a month in the year to March 2021 to £1,100 last year.
Living costs soared in April, adding to the financial strain on those renting a home.
In England, the median cost of a one-bed property was £700 a month in the year to March, while the median salary was £31,490.
This meant that an average lone tenant was spending about 27 per cent of their income on rent.
Different ONS figures indicated that median rents had risen by 2.8 per cent in the year to May, the highest annual increase since records began in 2016.
In the south east, rents have gone up by 3.1 per cent – up from 1.2 per cent the year before.
Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing and homeless charity Shelter, said that millions of tenants were “living on a knife-edge with no wriggle room to help then navigate rising costs” as private rents soared, swallowing an increasingly large slice of people’s income.
Ms Neate also urged the government to end the freeze on housing benefit immediately to prevent rising homelessness.
She said that this would provide a safety net for the many tenants – almost half of all renters – who had no savings.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said that the most vulnerable would receive at least £1,200 of direct payments to mitigate the rising cost of living.
The department highlighted the council tax rebate and £400 energy repayment as measures that had been brought in to help people during this testing period.
Action group Generation Rent said that the inability of some middle-income earners to afford their own one-bed flat was a “shameful mark of failure by successive governments to take housing seriously”.
Generation Rent’s deputy director Dan Wilson Craw said: “Renters are bearing the brunt of the ‘cost of living’ crisis – unable to force their landlords to properly insulate their homes and facing huge rent increases in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“In the short term, we need a freeze on rents but long term we need much greater efforts to build homes in places people want to live.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We are extending the decent homes standard to the private rented sector, giving all renters the legal right to a warm home, while empowering them to challenge poor housing standards and unjustified rent increases.”
The government has pledged to bring in a renters’ reform bill which, it said, would ban no-fault evictions, provide greater legal power for renters to challenge landlords about unfit homes and protect them against unjust price rises.
Brighton and Hove City Council had agreed to “develop or commission an information or advice hub for private renters and consider options for a private tenants’ forum”.
At the council’s Housing Committee meeting Wednesday 22 June, members were told that plans for the hub were “off track”.
A report said: “This work has been deferred due to covid-19 priorities and resource capacity issues.”