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How we live is changing. In England, nine million people now rent privately.
It's not just students and young professionals anymore: more than a third of renting households are families with children, and half are older than 35.
With home ownership out of reach and social housing waiting lists ever-growing, private renting has become the only choice for millions of families. But with soaring costs, poor conditions and a lack of stability, renting has fast become the worst of all worlds.
If your home is owned, managed or let out by a private landlord then it's privately rented. Your landlord could be an individual or a company. Sometimes, management companies or estate agents will manage and let out a property on behalf of the owner.
Unlike renting in the social housing sector, most private rental properties are let out at market rates, meaning they are likely to be more expensive. They're also likely to be let out on short term contracts of 6-12 months, with the landlord able to evict a tenant with only two months' notice.
Since 2001, the proportion of homes rented privately has rocketed by 69%. But this surge in demand hasn't been supported by the necessary changes to make renting safe, stable and affordable.
As the demand for rented accommodation grows, many people are priced out of decent homes and forced to accept properties in terrible conditions – just to keep a roof over their heads. Making private renting better is crucial to ensure everyone has a safe and affordable home to live in.
We believe we can fix private renting and improve the lives of millions of people in the UK. Will you join us?
With help from our supporters, Shelter has won changes for renters:
Tenancy deposits are now protected by the law. The Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme benefits millions of private renters, many of whom previously faced problems getting their deposits back.
We also won greater protection for renters if the landlord's property they are living in is repossessed.
Evicting rogue landlords
We've helped to expose the rogue landlords who rent out dangerous properties and make life a misery for their tenants.
In mid-2012, the Housing Minister announced a taskforce and extra funding to tackle some of the worst offenders – those who let out so-called 'sheds with beds'.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued guidance to local councils on how to crack down on rogue landlords, following pressure from Shelter.
We're keeping up the fight to stamp out rogue landlords for good: be sure to stay up to date with our campaign.
As more and more households are forced into private renting, increased demand will put greater pressure on the rental market. This will push up prices and drive down conditions – leaving renters even worse off.
Shelter wants to see action to improve conditions; increase the stability of renting; make renting more affordable; and ensure that anyone who wants to rent, can.