The Context: Unaffordable Houses and Rich Landlords

"My phone and computer are filled with hundreds of images from the many times I've moved into new properties over the years. I learned the hard way that I need to take pictures of every scuff, scratch and stain - and even when I have, landlords have still tried to get me to cover the costs of damage I didn't do."

Renting as a young person is often a precarious experience as we navigate unaffordable and poor-quality housing featuring unbalanced power dynamics with landlords and letting agencies. Many of us subsequently move frequently to counterbalance the availability of housing where we can feel at home, limiting our ability to establish roots in an area.

The private rental sector (PRS) has swelled in its size as increased numbers of young people head to university. Those not attending university and unable to access parental finance also move into the PRS as they can’t afford to buy as social housing levels are depleted as a result of government austerity measures. Even in cases of homelessness, private rentals are deferred to by councils due to new legislation.

Taking advantage of this unaffordability of housing and the growth in demand within the PRS, property owners have used the increase of their house prices for equity leverage in investing in multiple property ownership. The Buy-to-Let mortgage scheme further allowed private landlordism to thrive as a primary opportunity for making returns on investments whilst the financial returns of other investment avenues elsewhere withered.

The increase in private renting and landlordism has not been matched with suitable regulation. ‘Market-based and consumerist regulatory mechanisms’ place the onus on the renter whilst not backing it with education, information, and support.1 The consequential power dynamic leaves young private renters in a precarious limbo, always in between places, only with the insurance of parental homeownership and finance. Those without said support are left heavily at risk of homelessness.

Extract from an article written by young private renters about the impact of the temporary nature of private renting has on their lives. Read more about the project here.

  1. Marsh, A. & Gibb, K., 2019. The private rented sector in the UK: An overview of the policy and regulatory landscape.