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Landlords providing greater security for private tenants

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Private renters are enjoying greater security in their homes than at any time over the last decade according to new official data.

The government’s English Housing Survey for 2018-19 published today shows that the average length that a private sector tenant lived in their current rental property was 4.4 years, up from 4.1 years in 2017-18. 

This is the highest average length of time tenants were staying in their current homes over the last decade.

With growing numbers of families with children now reliant on the sector for a home, the figures show that the market is responding by ensuring tenants remain in properties for longer periods of time, enabling them establish roots in a community.

John Stewart, Policy Manager for the RLA said: “The vast majority of landlords who do a good job welcome good tenants staying in their properties long-term and today’s figures bear this out. 

“They clearly refute the picture some create that landlords spend all their time looking for ways to evict their tenants and it is time to end this scaremongering.

“The market is meeting the ever-changing demands on it without the need for legislation. 

“It is vital that the government continues to support and encourage this with pro-growth policies that support good landlords to provide the long-term homes to rent to meet ever growing demand.”  

Other findings

The survey also found that in 2018-19, the private rented sector accounted for 4.6 million or 19% of households. While the sector has doubled in size since 2002, the rate has hovered around 19/20% since 2013-14.

It also found: 

  • In 2018-19, 10% of 55-64 year olds lived in the private rented sector, up from 7% in 2008-09.
  • Over the past decade, there was a significant increase in the proportion of households with children in the private rented sector, from 30% in 2008-09 to 37% in 2018-19. Between 2008-09 and 2018-19, the number of households with dependent children in the private rented sector increased by about 765,000.
  • 56% of private renters (2.4 million households) stated they expected to buy a property at some point in the future. This has fallen from 61% of private renters who said the same in 2013-14. 


  • In 2018-19, the average (mean) rent (excluding services but including Housing Benefit) was £200 per week in the private rented sector. 
  • The average private rent in London was £341 per week, about twice the average rent outside London (£162 per week). Between 2017-18 and 2018-19 there was a £30 increase in private rent in London, from £312 to £341 per week.
  • The proportion of household incomes spent on private sector rents (including housing benefit) was 32.8% in 2018-19, down from 32.9% the year before and the lowest it has been since at least before 2010-11. 
  • In contrast, the proportion of household incomes spent on private sector rents (excluding housing benefit) was 37.3% in 2018-19, up from 36.8% in 2017-18.

Benefit Claimants

  • 20% (924,000 households) of private renters received Housing Benefit to help with the payment of their rent. Between 2008-09 and 2014-15, the proportion of private renters in receipt of Housing Benefit increased steadily from 19% to 27% before falling to the current proportion.


  • In 2018-19, 77% of all renters paid a deposit when they moved into their current accommodation; 76% of deposits were registered with a government-backed tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme; 18% said that they did not know if their deposit was protected.
  • The estimated total proportion of private rented sector households covered by a TDP scheme has therefore increased from between 45% and 66% in 2014-15 to between 59% and 72% in 2018-198.


  • In 2018-19, 6% of private renters lived in overcrowded accommodation, up from 3% in 1998-99.
  • 25% of private rented properties were classed as ‘non decent’ a higher proportion than both the social rented and owner occupied sectors. This has not changed since 2017-18. 
  • While the private rented sector had the highest proportion of homes with a Category 1 hazard, there was a notable decrease in the proportion of stock with such hazards, from 31% in 2008 to 14% in 2018.
  • 5.3% of private rented properties had an EPC rating of F or G compared to 19.4% in 2008.
  • 87.7% of all PRS households had at least one working smoke alarm in them, down from 88.5% the year before. 29% of PRS households with a smoke alarm had never had it tested. 

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


  • Do you think renewing every 6 or 12 months makes for “security”?
    That you seek to be taken seriously, while being so thoroughly disingenuous is, frankly, embarrassing.

    • I don’t think Sally said that, did she? She was talking about the increase in average length of tenancies, and I think that’s valid. I don’t quite know what you mean by renewing every 6 or 12 months, because surely most landlords switch to the automatic ongoing system after the initial period, because there’s little point in doing anything else? The statistic that I found quite alarming was the doubling in the number of overcrowded accommodation percentages over the last 20 years. That implies stress in the housing market.

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