[Originally posted at the Guardian Housing Network, 25/01/13]
The most striking change in the British housing market over the last decade is the growth of private renting. Last week, Mark Prisk, the housing minister, indicated in the Spectator that further growth is desirable. He wants to make the sector “bigger and better”. But alongside growth is an increasing recognition that we cannot talk about a single private rented sector.
Private rented housing plays different roles in different local housing markets. Thirty years ago, we thought of private renting as accommodating a few distinct groups: those in tied accommodation, the young, the mobile, poor people who did not qualify for social housing, and a rump of lifetime renters on regulated tenancies.
A decade ago, a further group were added to the list: those eligible for social housing who chose private renting to avoid the perceived stigma of estate living. Since then, there have been a number of attempts to identify other groups, such as students and young professionals. [Read more…]