The Private Rental Sector (PRS) has been growing, notably among families, with the number of households with dependent children in the private rented sector in England increasing by close to a million households between 2006/07 and 2016/17.
We followed new and long-term private renters through each stage of their rental journey. Speaking to forty people in total, we explored their experiences of:
- searching for a home;
- securing a new place to live;
- living in the PRS; and
- the process of moving out.
The research captures their attitudes, experiences and the challenges (or 'consumer detriment') they face at each stage.
Some key types of consumer detriment are prevalent across the sector - notably at the point of searching for and securing a home. Participants report feeling poorly equipped to navigate a highly competitive and complex market. They typically also perceive a power imbalance which frequently favours landlords and letting agents over renters. This has resulted in tenants feeling reluctant to question or negotiate conditions with landlords when securing a home due to feeling under pressure to put in an offer.
The biggest challenge is finding a suitable house. Anything suitable is usually snapped up very quickly, so you don't really have time to assess the house properly.
Adult, household with children, Belfast
Reports and Releases
- Which? press release
- Which? report: Reform of the private rental sector
- Which?/Ipsos MORI: Private renters' customer journeys
Qualitative fieldwork took place from October 2017 - February 2018 with two groups of private renters: ‘Cohort 1’ comprised 25 people currently looking to rent a new home, and ‘Cohort 2’ comprised 15 people already living in the PRS. Fieldwork consisted of:
- 25 initial telephone depth interviews (Cohort 1)
- 21 online app diaries which participants could complete from their smartphone (Cohort 1)
- 40 face-to-face interviews (Cohort 1 & 2)
- 5 follow-up telephone interviews (Cohort 1 & 2)
- 5 filmed follow up ethnographic interviews (Cohort 1 & 2)
Fieldwork took place in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Throughout the report, participants’ comments, case illustrations and customer journeys have been anonymised.