The research explores the regional responses to a changing context in housing associations and market renting in the North East and North West of England.

Housing associations are operating within a radically altered and rapidly changing policy context — something which was heightened during the course of this research. This research originated in the convergence of a number of factors shaping an agenda for housing associations to engage with market renting:

  • The growth of private renting within a changing housing system.
  • Government policy encouraging institutional investment in the private rented sector.
  • The impact of funding and welfare reform on the operating environment of housing associations, including a trend towards commercialisation and diversification.

Within this context, the research aimed to examine the extent and nature of market renting provision amongst housing associations, but also – crucially - to explore the strategic decision making processes shaping such activity. While much of the discussion of market renting amongst housing associations so far has been located in London and the South East , this research was conducted in the North East and North West regions of England.


The research included an online survey of housing associations operating in the North East and North West regions, a roundtable discussion with senior local, regional and national stakeholder representatives and interviews with additional national level stakeholders, and interviews with senior housing professionals from seventeen housing associations operating in the two regions.

The evolving policy context within which the research was conducted added to the dynamic nature of the analyses of organisations’ decision making. In an increasingly uncertain environment, the report aims to inform policy makers and practitioners through a deeper understanding of how housing associations are interpreting and interacting with external and internal forces in deciding if, why and how, they engage with market renting provision.

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