Policy briefing: Homes fit for families - the case for stable private renting

By: Robbie de Santos  Published: March 2012


Many more people are renting from private landlords, especially families with children, and will be renting for the long term. As buying a home becomes ever harder and social housing is in ever shorter supply, more and more people have found themselves with no choice but to rent privately. The number of households renting privately has soared to more than 3.6 million, one in six households.

Summary

There are now more than one million families with children renting privately; almost double the number five years ago.

While private renting is still a tenure of choice for some, this new generation of no-choice private renters are having to adjust their aspirations to the new reality: almost 3 million adults expect to be renting privately for five years or more, including 2 in 5 families with children.

Despite this, six or 12 month contracts are standard, and renting families are ten times more likely to have moved in the last year than those paying a mortgage.

Private renters are much less likely to know their neighbours, volunteer or vote. The high cost of renting and moving presents barriers to renters taking up jobs and dampens consumer spending by reducing disposable income. Families want to put down roots in their community, but in an overheated market their choices are severely limited.

Most landlords want to keep good tenants for the long term, and are prepared to be flexible and reasonable in their dealings with tenants. But with the market as tight as it is, there is little competitive pressure on them to respond to the new realities of the sector.

As Shelter sees increasing numbers of renters who are disadvantaged by the current state of the sector, we urge the industry and national and local government to recognise the profound changes the sector has undergone. The challenges the new generation of private renters face as they struggle to find a decent place they can call home means it is time for long term strategies to adapt to the changing world of private renting.

 

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