The Resolution Foundation has called for more protections for tenants, including limits to rent rises and indeterminate tenancies.
The think tank predicted that half a million millennials could be renting in their 40s and a third could be doing so in retirement, in its Home Improvements report.
Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Britain’s housing problems have developed into a full-blown crisis over recent decades and young people are bearing the brunt – paying a record share of their income on housing in return for living in smaller, rented accommodation.
“While there have been some steps recently to support housebuilding and first time buyers, up to a third of millennials still face the prospect of renting from cradle to grave.
“If we want to tackle Britain’s ‘here and now’ housing crisis we have to improve conditions for the millions of families living in private rented accommodation. That means raising standards and reducing the risks associating with renting through tenancy reform and light touch rent stabilisation.”
The Resolution Foundation said ‘light-touch rent stabilisation’ was one solution, by limiting rent rises to CPI inflation for three year intervals.
Another is introducing indeterminate tenancies as a sole form of contract in England and Wales, following Scotland as well as Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.
The study concluded that landlords shouldn’t be able to end a tenancy for no reason.
And lastly it recommended for the creation of a ‘housing tribunal’ to enable landlords and their tenants to resolve disputes quickly.
The Foundation said government policy has failed to catch up with the fact that bringing up children in the PRS has now become mainstream.
In 2003, the number of children in owner-occupied housing outnumbered those in the PRS by eight to one. That ratio has now fallen to two to one.
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: “Ministers need to make pragmatic changes to their approach to private rented housing, with a series of policies that support, rather than attack, the majority of private landlords who are individuals to invest in the new homes to rent we need alongside all other tenures.
“This includes greater support and encouragement for those prepared to offer longer tenancies but who are concerned about being locked into agreements where tenants might be failing to pay their rent, not looking after their property or committing anti-social behaviour.”