Over a quarter of renters in England have moved three times or more in five years because they can only secure short-term tenancies. And moving costs plunged nearly half of renting parents into debt or arrears on household bills, with one in four also reporting the move as causing their children emotional distress. That is according to a survey of 3,700 private renters in England by the housing charity Shelter, which found 27% of renters moving frequently and 46% of renting parents with moving-related financial difficulties.

A shortage of housing in some areas of England is driving up house prices and rents. With more families struggling to buy a home, competition for private rental housing is fierce. The average rent in England hit £625 in 2015, up 10% since 2011, shows government figures. In London, the rise is even sharper. The average rent rose 30% to £1,400. But incomes have fallen sharply over the same period amid a real-terms fall in wages and the government's welfare cuts, which include a reduction in housing benefit, putting serious strain on renters' finances.

"Today's sky-high housing costs mean private renting is no longer just a stepping stone for young adults – it's where a quarter of all families in England have to live," said Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter. "It's shocking therefore that it is still not fit for purpose. With short-term contracts, sudden rent hikes and expensive moving costs putting huge pressure on family life, it's no wonder that millions of parents are battling to give their children a stable home. We know the vast majority of parents are crying out for longer term tenancies, so it's about time the government turned this into a reality and gave England's 11 million private renters a better deal."