Building Community in the Private Rented Sector

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Private renting continues to comprise a larger proportion of tenures, but it also continues to be a tempestuous way of living: Londoners in the private rented sector (PRS) move every 20 months. They are increasingly going from PRS to PRS; home ownership is unaffordable for many and social or discounted market rent isn’t available for most.

Frequently moving uproots residents from communities – or discourages them from truly settling into neighbourhoods to begin with. A recent survey found that 63% of London tenants last moved at least two miles, which often means adjusting to new high streets, transport options, and services. Far from affecting only young professionals, 34% of PRS households have dependent children and the number of older adults in the PRS is projected to rise.

As the number of private renters has grown, so too has the diversity of accommodation on offer: build to rent comprised 21% homes under construction as of April 2019; co-living is landing on central government’s radar; housing associations are offering market and discounted market rent; intergenerational living is being tested; and community-led housing is gaining support at all political levels.

These models can give renters more choice and are billed as more community-focused than traditional private renting. From an institutional perspective, new models offer long-term financial returns and associated social benefits. The challenge is for practitioners to integrate different models into neighbourhoods and planning policy, and to ensure tenants across all forms of PRS – both traditional and upstart – can put down roots and remain within their chosen communities.

Future of London’s 2020 project will review the landscape of private renting options; investigate how private renters are forging and maintaining community links – and how built environment organisations are trying to help; and share effective approaches to building security and sense of community within the private rented sector.

Get involved

We’d like to connect with organisations involved in – or tenants of – build to rent, co-living, community-led housing, intergenerational housing or other private renting models. If you have experience to share or are interested in partnering with us on this project, contact Anna Odedun.

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