Accessibility statement

Review of the Private Rented Sector


Purpose of the research

The private rented sector has altered substantially since the publication of The Private Rented Sector: Its Contribution and Potential in 2008. At that time it was possible to state that the tenure was often overlooked; now it is much more likely that the private rented sector (PRS) is regarded as a key element of the housing market. A number of commentators are looking to the PRS to increase overall property supply, to provide an attractive alternative to owner occupation, and to deliver suitable accommodation for lower-income households unable to secure a social sector tenancy.

It is timely to repeat the process of review, using the 2008 data as a baseline. Since 2008, the PRS has increased in size and now houses more people than the social rented sector. Many aspects of the supply-side elements of the private rented sector (PRS) have changed over the same time, including a substantial increase in institutional investment in the market, housing associations and local authorities developing properties for market rental, and the creation of new rental products targeted at particular user groups.

It is also appropriate to consider whether and how far a range of policy interventions have influenced the development of the sector. Financial, environmental health, planning, welfare and regulatory policy interventions currently frame the operation of the PRS, and are delivered at national, regional and local levels. The devolution of certain statutory functions to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has introduced the opportunity to learn from alternative approaches to issues, such as landlord licensing. However, problems are still associated with the sector, including concerns about access and affordability, property and management quality, and security of tenure. The increasing proportion of households presenting as homeless and citing the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy as the reason also brings into question the ability of the sector to deliver long-term affordable housing, and questions remain as to the ability of the sector to accommodate vulnerable households.

The Review's aims are:

  • to provide a comprehensive analysis of the ‘state of play’ of the PRS;
  • to assess the range of policy interventions currently impacting on the sector; and
  • to consider possible policy options contributing to more effective operation of the sector.

Participating in the Review

Meetings and round-table discussions

The Review process aims to engage with a wide selection of statutory, third-sector and industry stakeholders and expert commentators. The research will include briefing sessions with particular expert individuals, and an extended series of round-table discussions. These interviews may be recorded so the researcher has an accurate record of the discussion, but all interview material will remain confidential, and recordings will be destroyed on production of the final report. The meetings will take place under ‘Chatham House Rules’. No attribution will be made in the final report linking any individual to any information or opinions collected as part of the briefing interviews or round-table discussions.

Written submissions

A call for written submissions has been issued, and asks for information on four key themes:

  1. narrative accounts of the private rented sector in a given location;
  2. demonstrable problems with the local private rented market, or a sub-section of the market;
  3. obstacles to successful resolution of those problems; and
  4. evidence of success in market management and/or policy intervention by statutory or third sector agencies.

Unless specified at the time of submission, all written submissions will be made available publicly after completion of the final report, via the newly-established UK Housing Evidence Centre.

The submission deadline is 31 December 2017.

The Nationwide Foundation


The research is being undertaken by Julie Rugg and David Rhodes, Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York.

The research

This Review has been funded by the Nationwide Foundation, which is a registered grant-making charity set up by the Nationwide Building Society in 1987. The final report from the Review will be launched in September 2018.
If you have any concerns or complaints relating to this piece of research please contact the Head of the Ethics Committee, Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York on or +44 (0)1904 321480.