The use and ‘abuse’ of private renting and help with rental costs
Britain is a nation of owner occupiers: taken as a whole, 68 per cent of the population live in property that is either owned outright or in the process of being paid for through a mortgage. In societal terms, owner occupation is a cultural norm, the history and meanings of which have been examined extensively (Saunders 1990; Dupuis and Thorns 1998). Young Britain, by contrast, is a nation of renters. Secondary analysis of the Survey of English Housing data shows that 60 per cent of single people aged 16-25 – 628,000 individuals – live in the private rented sector (PRS) (Rugg and Burrows, this volume). However, the use of private renting by young people is an area that has been infrequently addressed. For example, even at a very basic level there is uncertainty about the proportion of young people who may be termed ‘willing renters’ who have made a choice in favour of that tenure, and about how many young people have simply ended up renting for want of any viable alternative. The issue of choice and constraint is particularly marked for young people reliant on state benefits, a group that will be the focus of this chapter.