Private Renting in a Home-owning Society: Disaster, Diversity or Deviance?

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Journal Article
Housing, Theory and Society, 2019, 36 (2), pp. 167 - 188
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© 2018, © 2018 IBF, The Institute for Housing and Urban Research. The rise in private renting in home ownership societies has been variously interpreted as increasing risk and insecurity and providing more flexible housing options for an increasingly diverse resident cohort. Drawing on an original survey and in-depth interviews with private renters in two cities in a classic home ownership society (Australia), there is clear support for the “disaster” interpretation in respect of low-income households renting in outer urban areas, with financial stress and insecurity reflecting and compounding disadvantage. For many others, private renting can be interpreted as a “constructive coping” strategy in the context of urban housing market restructuring. A sizeable cohort of private renters explicitly prioritises living in a desired inner/middle city location over owning. One–albeit relatively small group–appears “deviant” from the home ownership norm in associating private renting with greater lifestyle freedom. The paper contributes an understanding that location and lifestyle are of paramount importance to many private renters rather than housing tenure per se.
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