Towards a sustainable private rented sector: What can we learn from other countries?

Kath Scanlon presented at the Sunday Business Post Residential Property Summit, which took place in Radisson BLU Royal on Golden Lane, Dublin on Tuesday, December 6th. Kath has studied housing markets and policy in several EU countries and the US and has advised government departments, international organisations and development banks. She has written extensively about Britain’s private rented sector and the role of new corporate landlords. In this presentation, Kath explores questions of what the PRS looks like in other developed countries and how does Ireland compare. She also provides evidence on how regulation is changing, and how the PRS is responding. She concludes with a reflection on what Ireland may take away from other contexts.

In learning lessons from abroad, she notes that there are some corrections that need to be corrected. First, institutional investment does not dominte private rented sectors in other countries. Second, regulation is not inherently associated with smaller poorly operating private rented sectors. Third, deregulation was not generally followed by increase in supply — UK and Ireland remain the exceptions.

The lessons Kath believes Ireland can learn from an international context are detailed in the PPT presention linked below. These lessons include:

  • Private renting needs a range of investors—institutions and corporates have their strengths but will never replace small landlords
  • The sector can suit families and older households, not just the young/mobile. Long-term secure leases may help.
  • Regulation not necessarily good for tenants/bad for landlords:
    • Can address market failures for both tenants and landlords, while reducing risks for both
    • Or can restrict returns to landlords and result in lower levels of supply and access to rental housing for tenants
  • The role and scale of the PRS are determined not only by regulation and taxes but also by
    • Built form
    • Availability of finance for landlords and developers
    • Returns on alternative investments
    • Tax treatment of other housing tenures
    • Culture
  • Stability more important than degree of regulation
  • Context is important–beware of policy ‘transplants’!

For proper citation, the entire presentation, Towards a sustainable private rented sector: What can we learn from other countries?, can be downloaded here.

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