Private rental sector 'vital' to country's economic and social life

Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A new report, published today and commissioned by the National Residential Landlords Association, has highlighted the importance of the private rented sector in terms of its socioeconomic role across the country, acting not only as a stepping stone for younger prospective homeowners but also as a mainstay housing option for older people.

The report, based on a survey of 2,000 private renters in England and Wales by the polling agency Opinium, suggests that it is wrong to conclude that private renters are trapped in the sector. It finds that fewer than one in ten (6%) of private renters want to switch to socially rented housing. In addition, whilst 76% said they want to buy a home of their own at some point in the future, 17% would have done so already if they could.

Prepared by Chris Walker, a Director at Chamberlain Walker Economics, the report concludes that the sector: “has attributes that make it the tenure of choice for many private renters, and that a high-quality and well-provided PRS is likely to be a good thing both socially and economically.”

The survey found that 41% of private renters rated the affordability of their rents as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ with a further 38% rating it as ‘fair’.

With the Government committed to supporting ‘Generation Rent’ to become ‘Generation Buy’, the report finds that for many private renters, job security is the biggest factor in determining when they choose to buy a home.

According to the survey, 37% of renters were more likely to buy their first home if they had a stable, secure job. This figure rose to 50% among renters aged 18-34.

With a growing number of older people now reliant on the private rented sector, 48% of renters aged 55 and older said they wanted to stay in the sector. Noting that around 3 million people aged 65 and over want to downsize, the report argues that the PRS can play an important role in enabling this to happen by freeing up under-occupied properties for aspiring homeowners.

According to Government data, 53% of owner-occupied properties are under-occupied compared with just 15% in the private rented sector.

Writing in the report, Chris Walker concludes: “For many, the PRS acts as an entry point to the housing market, helping younger people gain their footing and independence when they leave the parental home without the bigger jump and commitment of homeownership. Similarly, the PRS is a mainstay housing option for many younger people whilst at university and for many as they move away from where they grew up to enter the world of work for the first time.”

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Today’s report makes clear the positive and vital role the rental market has to play in the economic and social life of the country. Contrary to the rhetoric from many, for the vast majority of tenants their experience in rented housing is positive. This is the platform the Government needs to build upon to ensure a sector that works for renters and responsible landlords.”

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