Homelessness is on the rise. According to official figures, the number of persons and households presenting to local authorities as homeless has been rising for a decade, following a period when it seemed that homelessness was falling. One particular group of homeless people – those who become homeless following the end of a private rented sector (PRS) tenancy – have become the focus of recent research and policy debate. This research seeks to understand what might be driving the increase in homelessness from the private rented sector, and what policy and practice changes might help reduce this increase. The research is funded by the Residential Landlords’ Association.

What is the need?

There is a wealth of existing research and available data on homelessness, some of which is directly relevant to understanding how, when and why individuals and families might experience an episode of homelessness when a tenancy in the private rented sector comes to an end. The challenge of this extant evidence is that it there are significant gaps; the evidence is often contradictory, with different studies providing diverse pictures of homelessness; research and data are often not at the level needed to understand (1) why private rented sector tenancies end; or (2) why, in some cases, this leads to episodes of homelessness. This research seeks to resolve some of these gaps, and provide clear evidence to help policy makers and those working in homelessness services understand and deal with this rise in homelessness.

What are we doing?

The Residential Landlords’ Association has commissioned the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University to address these questions, and to provide insight into the causes of the recent rise of homelessness from the private rented sector. The overall research project has involved a structured review of the relevant literature (including academic literature), interviews with sixteen key individuals involved in this area, and a survey of landlords (n=1822 respondents). The final strand of the research was a Delphi survey of individuals and organisations with expert knowledge and understanding of homelessness and of the private rented sector. The research has been given ethical approval by the university’s Ethics Committee (ref: A&H1718 -54).

What will be the outcomes?

The research was commissioned at the beginning of 2017. The research is now complete; a policy brief, setting out key findings and policy/practice implications was published in July and is available from the Project Links below.

The final report is being drafted and will be published in October. The Residential Landlords’ Association and the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit are co-ordinating a series of events and campaigns to highlight the findings of this research.

Project links


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