Garnham L & Rolfe S (2019) Tenant Participation in the Private Rented Sector: A Review of Existing Evidence. UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence. Glasgow. https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/tenant-participation-in-the-private-rented-sector-a-review-of-existing-evidence/
This report reviews the evidence on tenant participation and activism in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). It looks at UK and international sources of academic and non-academic evidence to explore how tenant activism works and what its impacts are in different contexts. We define participation and activism as any activity in which tenants come together to collectively tackle a housing problem.
This review found that the outcomes stimulated by activism are non-linear, iterative and take time to become apparent. Despite the diversity and relative transience of the PRS tenants in the UK, effective collective action is possible, has improved the housing conditions of many tenants and has empowered many more. The most effective tenant organisations focus on building their assets and creating new opportunities for influence at the same time as trying to deliver improvements in housing conditions or policy. However, there remain significant challenges for tenants in the PRS, particularly the need to protect and enforce existing rights, a responsibility which currently falls heavily on tenants and tenant-activists.
The paper concludes that landlords and letting agents need to recognise the value of sharing power with tenants – genuinely involving tenants in decision-making can help to sustain tenancies and maintain landlord income. Further, policy makers can support improvements in the PRS by ensuring that tenant activism is facilitated and that the voices of tenants are heard. A more empowered tenant-base in the PRS would be protective of tenants’ housing conditions and quality of life.