Most debates around housing focus on young adults, the drastic fall in their rate of home ownership and ways to boost the number of first time buyers.
Far less attention, however, is given to the vast numbers of renters who are already too old to get a mortgage and face a lifetime of renting instead. As more of them reach retirement age, the state will start paying more of their rent, and faces enormous costs unless it makes some fundamental changes to the housing market. Because politicians only operate with 5-year horizons, few are fretting about the implications of lifetime renting.
But we are, and today we publish a report co-authored with David Adler of Oxford University: Life in the Rental Market.
An intriguing exchange in the House of Commons this week may contain clues about the government's big forthcoming announcement of reforms to tenancies.
During a debate on temporary accommodation, the backbench Conservative MP Bob Blackman said this:
The greatest cause of homelessness is the end of an assured shorthold tenancy. They usually run for six months and at the end of that period families often have to move. The solution is clear: we need longer tenancies and more security of tenure for families, but also assurances to landlords that they will get paid their rent and that the tenants will behave themselves in accordance with the contract they have signed. I ask the Minister to update us on where we are going with lengthening tenancies, which would dramatically reduce homelessness at a stroke. Perhaps we can do that.
With home ownership unaffordable and council housing unavailable, private renters are living longer in a tenure that wasn't designed to provide long term homes. The constant threat of your landlord deciding to sell up or move back in means that you have none of the stability that a home is supposed to provide.
New polling from Survation, commissioned by us, exposes the impact this has on tenants' lives. It shows that private renters are more anxious about the security of their home and this is holding them back from investing time in their home and their local community.
The internet has already shaken up the music industry, television, taxis and self-catering holidays. Investors are now looking for the next industry to disrupt with technology and property seems ripe for the picking.
As the national voice of private renters, we agree that the property industry as it stands fails its consumers in too many ways, so things need to change. Even when we succeed in changing the law, like the forthcoming letting fees ban, we still need to ensure that it's implemented properly and the industry adapts in the right way.
But we can't allow slick and revolutionary new services or initiatives to simply treat tenants as cash cows in the same way that many letting agents and landlords currently do. So this is what we think the market needs - and how the tenant should benefit.
Where’s my deposit? It is no joking matter for nearly 300,000 tenants whose landlord has not protected their deposit.
This has left many out of pocket without a clue of how they will manage to raise another deposit - the average amount in London stands at £1040 for their next property.
Since the east London borough of Newham introduced mandatory borough-wide licensing of all private landlords in 2013, improvements in the sector have been indisputable. Criminal landlords are being driven out of the borough, standards and safety in the sector have improved and enforcement has dramatically increased.
Yet with the scheme due to expire on 31 December 2017, government is now more than four weeks overdue in making a decision on approval of a new, five-year scheme, to start in the new year.
At the General Election in June, Labour won a majority of the votes of the under-40s. This was a wake-up call for the Conservative Party, many of whose members are now filled with a new urgency to address this cohort's biggest concerns - including a rather large house-shaped one.
Their annual conference has duly been bursting with new housing policies, particularly for private renters. But while they are (for the most part) improvements, the proposals fail to address the urgency of the housing crisis.
The biggest talking point of Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Labour Party conference this week was rent controls. Since 2014 Labour has been proposing to limit rises in rents during tenancies, but there was something different this time around.
This is what the Labour leader said on Wednesday:
We will control rents - when the younger generation’s housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents, that is not sustainable. Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections.
The harsh reality of the UK’s sometimes savage housing market is that more people are renting their homes until later in life but paying more for the privilege of doing so than their parents did.
In England the number of private renters has increased from two million to 4.5 million between 1999 and 2015 while renting a home has been eating up a steadily increasing proportion of renters’ income, rising from 8% during the late 1960s to over 27% today, on average. Here we look at the key trends driving up rents across the nation in recent years.