This study examines changes in house prices, RSL rents and the comparative costs of low cost home ownership and RSL renting over the decade 1989/90 to 1998/99. A simple comparison using house prices is not sufficient because even when house prices are rising, the weekly costs of a mortgage and insurance may be falling. The study shows that in some areas it is as cheap to buy a house at the lower end of the market as it is to rent from an RSL. At the other extreme, there is a growing group of households who are not eligible for assistance with their housing costs, yet cannot afford to rent or purchase in the private sector. RSLs need to look at the weekly costs of owner occupation as well as comparing their own rents with those in the private sector, the local authority sector and other RSLs.