The average rent in Darlington is now costing locals with the median salary a quarter of their monthly income, new data reveals.

Campaign group Generation Rent said the next government must tackle the cost of rent by building more homes and stopping landlords from raising rent above wage growth or inflation.

Office for National Statistics figures show the average rent in Darlington was £573 a month in May.

Separate data from the ONS show the median wage for the same month was £2,228 in the area – meaning rent accounted for 26 per cent of the monthly income for an average individual.

The figures are based on individual wages – cohabiting couples or those living in house shares will see rent shared between multiple wages.

In the North East the average rent is £667, which takes up 30 per cent of the median salary in the area.

Ben Twomey, chief executive of Generation Rent, said: "Prices in the shops may have stopped rising so quickly, but renters are still seeing our single biggest cost go up faster than our incomes.

"Landlords can raise the rent as high as they think they can get away with and use the threat of a no-fault eviction to bully their tenants to accept it."

He added: "We won't fix the cost of renting crisis unless the next government acts to slam the brakes on these runaway rents."

He said more homes are needed alongside protections against unaffordable rent increases.

"That means stopping landlords raising rent above wage growth or inflation - whichever is lower," he said.

Rent in Darlington has increased five per cent from £547 a year ago, and has jumped 22 per cent from £468 when records started in 2015.

Across England, rent has increased nine per cent from last year and 35 per cent since 2015.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: "Successive governments have failed to build the social rent homes we desperately need and private rents are continuing to rocket as a result.

"Every day we hear from people who are forced to cough up money they simply don’t have just to keep hold of an overpriced and often shoddy rental."

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She added renters are left to accept "eyewatering rent hikes" due to competitive rental markets and a lack of protection from evictions.

She said the next government must urgently ban Section 21 "no-fault" evictions, limit in-tenancy rent increases and extends notice periods.

"But long-term, the only way to take the heat off private renting is to invest in a new generation of genuinely affordable social homes with rents tied to local incomes," she added.