Private Rented Markets


Aideen Hayden
University College Dublin
Dublin, Ireland

Paddy Gray
Centre for Research in Property
School of the Built Environment
University of Ulster
Northern Ireland

Central themes
The research themes of this Working Group include:

  • Characteristics of rental markets in Europe, USA and Asia-Pacific
  • Private rented housing as a means of social inclusion
  • Low income households and private rented markets
  • New immigrant communities and private rented accommodation
  • Dynamics of the relationship between private and social rented sectors
  • Private rented sector as a means of promoting social mix
  • Residential property management
  • Landlord behaviour and decision-making
  • State regulation of private rented markets
  • Dispute resolution between landlords and tenants
  • Housing benefit and private rented markets
  • Licensing of HMOs
  • Minimum dwelling standards and enforcement
  • Design standards for apartment complexes
  • Supply of private rented accommodation

The Working Group also provides an opportunity for the discussion of associated themes – for example, housing finance, housing and minority ethnic groups, legal aspects of housing land and planning – and engages in joint sessions with other Working Groups to advance expertise on common themes.

Activities and output in recent years
The Working Group holds an annual conference in Spring followed by workshop sessions at the ENHR main conference in Summer. Spring conferences have taken place in Dublin, York, Granada, St. Marienthal (Germany), Oxford, Derry and London.

The Working Group has also published papers in a special edition of the International Journal for Housing Policy.

The Private Rented Markets Working Group met at Plenary in Uppsala in June 2018 and held a very productive workshop focussed on the conference themes. In line with recent Working Group sessions there was evident interest in the area of rent control and measures undertaken or under discussion in a number of jurisdictions. Papers were presented also looking at tensions that have arisen in an increasingly pressurised private rented market across Europe. The revival of private renting and decline in homeownership was a central focus. So too was the increasingly precarious nature of the sector, shortage of rental accommodation, overcrowding and poor standards, loss of properties to Airbnb and the changing nature of landlordism. The role of private renting as a pathway to homelessness and the difficulties of enforcing regulation even when present was yet again a theme. New forms of affordable rental and the role of rental in mixed tenure development emphasised the changing nature of the tenure and its ongoing evolution. The wide range of papers led to many interesting discussions, our thanks to all who participated.

The Working Group met in Lyons in June 2017 and held a workshop looking at the concept of Rent. While the theme was set to encompass the widest possible definition of the subject matter, there was evident interest from the papers presented in the area of rent control measures undertaken or under discussion in a number of jurisdictions. Papers were also presented looking at the impacts of shortage of rental accommodation, common in a number of jurisdictions evidenced in the emergence of issues such as overcrowding and poorer standards of accommodation.

The Group also held a workshop in Tirana in September 2017 where we had a wide range of presentations focussed on the theme of the conference, ‘Affordable Housing for All’. We had contributions from Norway, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Taiwan as well as Ireland and the UK. The wide range of papers led to an interesting discussion but common themes included the high cost of housing for tenants in the private rented sector compared to other tenures and the lack of regulation of the sector in countries where the sector is emerging.

Seminar on ‘Security and Stability in the Private Rented Sector’ at the Centre for Urban Studies, Amsterdam (The Netherlands), 2016. The theme centred on the nature and extent of security and stability in the private rented sector, including the supply of private rented housing, tenancy termination and evictions, dispute resolution between landlords and tenants, prevention of homelessness, the role of rent regulation, and State provision of income/welfare supports.

ENHR Conference ‘Housing and Cities in a time of change: are we focusing on people?’ in Lisbon (Portugal), 2015. This well attended workshop also included a joint session with the East European Housing and Urban Policy Working Group. The main topics of the papers presented were rent regulation, welfare reform and PRS development in Central and Eastern Europe.

2015: Workshop on housing markets in Ireland and Spain. Joint event with the Housing Chair, Universitat Rovira I Virgili (URV) and the School of Real Estate and Construction Economics, Dublin Institute of Technology. This information sharing event brought together experts in housing law, regulation and policy from Spain and Ireland to share their knowledge and experience with members and supporters of the ENHR Working Group on Private Rented Markets and Housing Chair URV. Participants included senior housing experts and policy-makers as well as tenant representatives and academics. Ireland and Spain share many of the same factors that led to their respective housing crises today, including high economic growth in the 1990s and 2000; construction booms that accounted for around 20 percent of Spain and Ireland’s economies; growing populations that generated demand for new homes; tax incentives for property developers and new home buyers; and exceptional house price inflation driven by easy access to credit.

2015: Seminar on ‘Private Renting After the Crisis’ at the London School of Economics, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. This very well-attended seminar brought together 35 housing academics and experts from Europe, North America and Asia to deliver papers on the state of the private rented sector after the Global Financial Crisis. The main subjects of papers presented and discussed were affordability and supports, rent regulation, legal framework and enforcement.

2014: ENHR Conference, ‘Beyond Globalisation. Remaking Housing Policy in a Complex World’
Edinburgh, Scotland. The Working Group hosted a successful workshop attended by total of 25 people, with 11 papers presented by participants from 9 countries. A number of themes were clearly identifiable from the papers and discussion:

  • The growth and re-emergence of the private renting tenure and its sustainability relative to other tenures;
  • Rental affordability and the role of rent stabilising measures including new forms of rent control, to underpin security of tenure in rising rental markets;
  • The role of purpose-built private rented housing and the emergence of a new-build private rental sector, for example, driven by not-for-profit housing associations in England.
  • Research methodologies that may be utilised to collate the views, experiences and treatment of tenants living in the private rented sector and wider issues concerning how the tenant voice is heard and the role of tenant representation.

2014: ENHR Private Rented Markets Conference, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
This successful conference was hosted by Jens Lunde at the Copenhagen Business School with the support of Realdania. The theme of the conference was ‘The Future of Private Renting in Europe’. The conference was attended by 18 participants from Denmark, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France and Canada, with 11 papers presented over two days.
In line with the theme of the conference, a number of policy and research threads were identifiable:

  • The challenges and opportunities in financing the supply of additional private rented accommodation and retention of existing stock in a climate of austerity.
  • The complexity of new and ongoing regulatory challenges for the private rented sector.
  • Making international comparisons of the PRS.

Policy implications

The purpose of this group is to provide opportunities to present papers on private rented housing markets.