Private Rental Housing

Private Rental Housing

Comparative Perspectives

Edited by Tony Crook and Peter A. Kemp

A new focus on private renting has been brought into sharp relief by the global financial crisis, with its profound impact on mortgage finance, housing markets and government budgets. Written by specially commissioned international experts and structured around common themes, this timely book explores the nature and role of private renting in eight advanced economies around the world.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Tony Crook and Peter A. Kemp

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, urban and regional studies, cities, urban studies


In developed economies, the urbanization accompanying industrialization in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries required significant housing investment. Although homeownership was important in some countries, such as Australia, private renting was the principal means of providing new homes in most countries, bringing together landowners, builders, financiers and workers seeking places to live. But what was once the dominant form of housing provision declined in most developed economies in the last century (as a proportion of the stock and in absolute numbers) while social renting and owner occupation became the main forms of provision. However, the decline in the private rented sector (PRS) now appears to have slowed and in some countries the PRS has increased. Although many countries have regulations restricting landlords, some of these have a vibrant PRS. Some with a large PRS give subsidies and tax advantages to landlords, while there are a few countries without this support, which have also seen a recent growth in their PRS. Many countries want more corporate landlords but while a few have such landlords, most have not. Reasons for the slowing down or recent growth suggest themselves. Many governments have reduced spending on social rented housing. Demographic requirements for housing have grown while labour markets are more flexible. The globalization of financial markets and availability of cheap credit from the mid-1990s to 2007 had major impacts on housing markets.