Reimagining Rent: Report on the future of the private rental sector

The Young Foundation has unveiled the findings from its Reimagining Rent accelerator; a programme that seeks to drive improvements in the private rented sector (PRS) through supporting innovation.

Over the past three years, Reimagining Rent, supported by Nationwide Foundation, has worked with a wide range of mission-driven entrepreneurs all seeking to improve outcomes for those who rent, discovering the impact they make and the challenges they face.

Through an intensive course of workshops, consultancy and expert mentoring, the project has supported 19 ventures to develop their business models, access new customers and raise over £1 million in investment to reach people renting privately at a greater scale.

These ventures each focus on one of five major challenges identified: promoting tenancy sustainability, supporting transitions to independence, using technology to improve the market, growing affordable and appropriate housing stock, and improving access to existing stock.

With the PRS in Britain expanding rapidly in recent years, an increasingly diverse demographic of people have turned to renting, with issues around affordability, housing quality and evictions leading to harm for many, particularly among vulnerable groups.

The fractures in this complex system have had devastating impacts for many, leading to a stark increase in homelessness – with the termination of PRS contracts as the most common cause of homelessness. COVID-19 has exacerbated all of these issues.

Long periods of isolation have increased mental health issues and affected personal and household well-being, paired with an uncertain outlook for employment and job support likely to make renting even less affordable for large amounts of private tenants.

The research identified seven key tenant groups, whose needs are not currently being met by the PRS:

  1. Workers in lower paid jobs

  2. Young people on low income

  3. Formerly homeless

  4. Clients with complex personal or mental health needs

  5. People with physical disabilities

  6. Older people

  7. Those at high risk of homelessness

Reimagining Rent ventures make a difference to the lives of over a thousand people each year across these seven tenant groups. A suite of recommendations to unlock impact like this at an even higher scale, which are aimed at innovators, policymakers, government influencers, councils, landlords, customers and social investors in the sector, are also included in the document – these include the need for:

  1. Better impact measurement for innovators

  2. Investment into new programmes which support multi-sector innovation, recognising the interdependence of housing and employment

  3. Available avenues for testing early-stage innovation, creating public sector ‘innovation mutuals’

  4. Market engagement to reveal how to drive adoption of tech-for-good solutions

  5. Patient capital as high-impact ventures are time-intensive

  6. More mission-aligned, early-stage finance

  7. Work to understand the viability of impact-motivated developers

  8. Direct involvement of housing innovators – and their beneficiaries – in government policymaking

Helen Goulden, CEO at The Young Foundation said:

“It is clear that no one policy, regulation or initiative or enterprise will shift some of the entrenched challenges facing housing in this country. It requires not only a supply of new ideas and ventures but innovative ways to implement regulation, new intermediaries, new policies and a commitment to socially responsible renting by landlords of all kinds.

“This report broaches a range of innovative ideas to support anyone working towards innovation and systemic change within the private rental sector.”

The report is available to download via The Young Foundation website.

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  1. Will2

    When I discovered the Nationwide Building Society was wasting investors money on this kind of stuff whilst paying a pittance in interest on my investment; AND donating what should be investors/members funds to Shelter I removed my significant investment and placed it elsewhere where customers are treated better.

  2. Woodentop

    The stark outcome of all of this is they haven’t stopped and looked at what the rental sector is. In PRS it is investors providing property. That is the core of PRS and without its understanding you can do anything you like and get no-where.


    These ventures seem to be more about providing for tenants needs (special needs in some cases are outlined) and getting them into a property and can only be effectively provided by Social Housing.


    Most of PRS are not suitable or will ever be for some of these special needs, if they don’t get the landlord on side. Everything today is geared at attacking landlords in PRS, so reference to “entrenched” challenges ….. no kidding!!!

  3. Ian Narbeth

    Impact measurement for innovators, multi-sector innovation, recognising the interdependence of housing and employment, avenues for testing early-stage innovation, public sector ‘innovation mutuals’, market engagement, adoption of tech-for-good solutions, patient capital (whatever that means), high-impact ventures, time-intensive,  mission-aligned, early-stage finance, viability of impact-motivated developers, housing innovators.
    What is this socio-business-speak gobbledegook? Does anyone who wrote it or reads it have the first idea what it means and what needs to be done? I’ll bet it was written by Guardian readers who have never provided private housing in their lives.
    How about the following? We need to make it easier to obtain permission to build. We need to build more houses and flats where people want to live and we need to stop treating with contempt the providers of housing and to stop burdening them with laws and regulations. We should stop taxing landlords on non-existent profits and encourage them to improve the housing stock. We need to dis-incentivise, not encourage, bad behaviour by tenants so that PRS landlords are confident they can prosper and not have their incomes/savings/futures blighted by criminal behaviours.

  4. MickRoberts

    So what this tenant group is calling for is more expensive rent is it. Cause if they want more things, any sensible person knows More things = More rent.

    My tenants can have gold taps if they want, but they won’t want, as they know more things cost more money on an already good house. Cause my tenants listen. They’ve been educated & know every time Corbyn, Labour, Licensing, these tenants groups ask for more things, the rent goes up to pay for it. RENT PAYS FOR EVERYTHING. More things = more rent. People must be deluded to not know that.
    And also more things = more Landlords packing up which means remaining Landlords can charge what they like.


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