The proportion of income spent on rent in the private rented sector has fallen from 35.4% in 2010/11 to 32.9% in 2017/18, the latest figures show.
In contrast, the amount of income used for rent by social tenants, including from housing benefit, has increased from 26.7% to 28%.
The data from the English Housing Survey for 2017/18 reveals that that over the ten years between 2008/09 and 2017/18, average weekly rents across England, excluding London, in the private rented sector increased by 22%, almost half the increase of 43% in rent in social housing sector.
In London, private rents increased by an average of 34% compared to 55% in the social sector.
The figures come as the Office for National Statistics has reported that rents are falling in real terms, having increased by just 1% year-on-year.
Separate figures from the government’s 2018 survey of landlords found that 70% kept their rents the same when they most recently renewed a tenancy, suggesting that most landlords prioritise keeping good tenants for a long term.
However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is warning of the risks now posed to improved affordability in the PRS as a consequence of changes such as those to benefits and increased taxation driving landlords out of the market.
Research undertaken by the government found that more than 15% of private landlords in England, representing just over 23% of all tenancies in England, plan to either decrease the number of properties they let or leave the market altogether.
Of this group, almost 70% said it was due to legislative changes, including the phased reduction of mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax and the 3% stamp duty levy on investment in new rental housing.
Alan Ward, chair of the RLA, said: “This data shows that the private rented sector is becoming more affordable, demonstrating the folly that forms of rent controls would be. We cannot however be complacent.
“The danger signs are there. Tax increases are choking the supply of homes to rent. Landlords like to keep their tenants who benefit from lower or no rent increases when tenancies are renewed, but fewer homes for rent means less choice for new tenants.
“We need positive, pro-growth taxation that supports landlords investing in the new homes to rent the country desperately needs.”