Homeowners and former renters join the chorus of those calling for urgent reform of our broken private renting system.
As an experienced researcher, I have managed hundreds of surveys and polls over the years. Despite this, I still get very excited whenever a new set of results land, which was particularly justified in the case of our latest renters’ rights polling. We launched our Renters’ Reform Bill campaign by highlighting these shocking numbers, which show that 3.2 million private renters have been forced to live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions because they were too scared of eviction to complain.
In this blog post I’m going to take you on a deeper dive into some of the unreleased results, showing you just how broad and strong the appetite for reforming the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is.
How many people have ever privately rented?
The chart below shows that 60% of adults in England, equating to 26.7 million adults, are or have been, a private renter. It picks out some of the demographic groups that over-index on this, but results are above half across almost all demographic groups, for example, 54% of retired people have rented privately at some point in their lives. We will see later why this is important.
Chart 1: Have you ever rented privately? Overall total and selected demographics
Current renters vs those that have rented in the past vs general public
We know that renters from all over the country have had enough of renting, but this survey helps illustrate how different groups of people feel about the need to reform and improve renting. The charts below show the results to three simple questions on this, among the whole public; current renters; people who are not renting privately right now but have done in the past; and those that never have.
Charts 2, 3 and 4 show just how many people support reform of the private rented sector – and how strongly they feel about it. It’s also clear that ‘ex-private renters’ back market reform too: with total levels of support only just below the current renter scores and substantially above the results among those that have never rented.
Pulling up the ladder?
We have known for a long time that levels of support for reforming the PRS tend to be higher among current renters, compared to others, particularly homeowners. Some theorised that once people get out of private renting and become homeowners, they ‘pull up the ladder’ and stop caring about renting issues. But this polling strongly suggests that this is an incorrect hypothesis and in fact, it is only people who have never rented who tend to have lower levels of support for these reforms to the PRS. And, even among that group, the vast majority see the need to change and improve private renting, and those who don’t, are more likely to say they ‘don’t know’ than to oppose reform.
With more and more people renting (recent levels are the highest since the 1960s), the proportion of people who’ve never rented is likely to decrease.
The need for a strong Renters’ Reform Bill
As well as measuring support for the broad principles of the bill, we also tested views on two more specific Renters’ Reform Bill policies: the ending of the ability to evict for no reason and the introduction of a landlord register. More details on the landlord register policy can be found in this recent report, and the results are shown below.
These two simple and very low-cost measures would be a building block for so much improvement for renters, and support is very high among the general public for both – but again particularly among current and ex-renters. With the government announcing plans to hold a consultation into running a landlord register, it’s clear that they should expect high engagement from a public that are fed up with renting and hungry for reform.
Since launching our Renters’ Reform Bill campaign, tens of thousands of supporters have signed our petition, thousands have shared their renting stories with us and over a hundred came to our kick-off event. We know that supporters want a reformed private rented sector, but these results show just how strongly the public back both the need for change and the policy measures that we believe need to be included in the bill.
Support for reform is high with all people, but particularly those that rent or have once rented. It’s clear they’ve had enough of our broken private rented system, so perhaps it is a case of ‘once a renter, always a renter.’
We’re saying ‘enough is enough’ to bad renting – join our campaign.