Edited by Tony Crook and Peter A. Kemp
The PRS in England has undergone a profound transformation in recent years. This has many facets, but includes a shift from a housing tenure that had been in decline for many decades to one that is growing strongly; and from being heavily regulated in relation to rents and security of tenure, to a sector with market rents and relatively weak security for tenants. In addition, the public image of private renting has markedly improved. And, in contrast to the politically polarized debates that characterized the 1950s to 1970s, there is now political consensus on the need for a commercially viable private rental market. It might be tempting to ascribe the recent growth in the PRS to the deregulation of rents and weakening of security of tenure that occurred in 1989. After all, these changes gave landlords greater liquidity and the prospect of more competitive rates of return. But, in fact, while the cessation of the sector's long decline coincided with deregulation, the growth in private renting during the subsequent decade was very modest. It was not until the turn of the century that substantial growth occurred. Moreover, what appears to have attracted investors during the early 2000s was not so much rental returns as the prospect of capital gains from house price inflation at a time when interest rates were very low. The subsequent GFC has further accelerated growth in private renting (Crook and Kemp, 2011).
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