Millions of tenants have no financial safety net to cover their rent costs should they lose their jobs or become too ill to work, according to a new report.

Many believe the government will help out with welfare benefits – but do not realise spending cuts mean this is unlikely.

The report from financial firm Royal London also revealed that one in four renters knew another renter who struggled financially when they fell ill.

The survey also asked renters about their attitude towards saving in case of a financial emergency.

A third who were in work confessed they did not know how long they could survive without any income.

Close to two-thirds believed their savings would run out in less than three months.

To tackle financial problems, 54% would try to apply for state benefits, 47% would cut spending and 39% would rely on savings.

Debbie Kennedy, head of protection for Royal London Intermediary, said:

“Renters who assume that housing benefit will be there when they need it could find the reality is very different.  A series of cuts to housing benefit means that more people would not get their rent paid in full if their income fell unexpectedly.”

“It would be bad enough to be taken ill without the added anxiety of getting behind with the rent and facing possible eviction.  Income protection may be more affordable than people realise and can provide a financial safety net and enable people to focus on getting better.”

Kennedy also pointed out that buy to let landlords also faced financial hardship if their tenants could not pay rents and that more could take out rent guarantee insurance to cover short-term arrears.

Statistics from economists suggest that buy to let will continue to take a larger share of the housing market over the next decade, which will see more renters.

In 2025, 60% of 20 to 39 year olds are expected to rent a private home, compared to 43% in 2013.