Stand back for a million more private tenants, says research

Savills is predicting that the number of households living in the private rented sector will grow massively over the next five years.

The firm also forecasts that housing associations will seize the business opportunity and mount increasing competition to traditional private landlords.

In a piece written by its director of residential research, former Times journalist Susan Emmett, the firm says there were 4.3 million households in the private rented sector in the UK in 2011.

She forecasts that the number will grow by one million over the next five years.

In her article, she says: “Although renting privately continues to be regarded as a short-term measure, more people are renting for longer.

“The biggest group of private tenants is aged between 25 and 34.

However, the fastest growing group of private tenants are aged between 35 and 44, a quarter of which are young families.

They are what we call ‘Generation Rent’, and we expect many will never own their own home.

“The mismatch between supply and demand is driving up rents and forcing tenants into sometimes poor-quality rental housing with little security of tenure.

“Our survey of 2,300 tenants conducted by YouGov revealed that there was a greater desire for longer-term tenancies among those over 35, while younger tenants prefer flexibility.

“The survey also showed that the search for better-quality housing was the main reason renters move.

“We interpret this as a search for better standard of accommodation, better design and higher specification.

These findings provide an opportunity for housing associations offering market rent homes to distinguish themselves from the average buy-to-let landlord.”

The article continues: “Now is the time for housing associations to tackle a different kind of housing need. With home ownership now in decline, housing associations could broaden their tenant base and provide a proportion of their housing at market rather than social rent.

“As this would be in addition to their current operations, the additional rental income could be used to cross-subsidise other tenures.”

Rob Wellstead, Managing Director at Lenwell added: "This article confirms that the private rental sector is an important part of the housing mix and is set for continued growth in the coming years. Whilst the owner occupied market has reduced in size in recent years, we expect this to also grow as demand for housing across all tenures increases."
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