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The private rented sector in the new century – a comparative approach

This study examines the role of regulation in the private rented sector across 11 European countries. A key finding is that well-conceived and well-managed regulation can enhance the private rented sector for both tenants and landlords.

The other main findings of the research suggest that:

  • England is the only country reviewed where the private rented sector has been growing rapidly in recent years.
  • In most countries the sector has declined, often accompanied by an increase in owner occupation. However, in some countries, such as England and the Netherlands, a large social rented sector developed with the aid of public subsidy.
  • In some countries, such as Germany, the private rented sector has remained large and stable over time, despite a high degree of regulation.
  • All countries had introduced strict regulations following World War II, in the face of acute housing shortages. In almost all cases this took the form of a total freeze on rents and high security of tenure for residents.
  • These regulations were later reduced in many countries once the housing shortages had been addressed. Usually, initial rents were freely determined, but rent increases for both new and existing tenancies were restricted to cost of living only. Security of tenure remained high in many countries, often with leases of indefinite duration.

The study also concluded that it is neither feasible nor desirable to construct a single summary measure of the strength of regulation.

The summary has been accepted as evidence by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee as part of its review of the private rented housing sector.


PDF document icon Realdania summary final for web.pdf — PDF document, 346 KB (354328 bytes)

Final Report

PDF document icon The Private Rented Sector_WEB.pdf — PDF document, 4.49 MB (4707087 bytes)


Sarah Monk

Connie Tang

Christine Whitehead

Sanna Markkanen

Publication Date

24th October 2012