The U.S. is not unique in its housing affordability challenges. Indeed, rental housing markets across the developed world are struggling with the issue. What can we learn from other wealthy countries and their housing policies?
NMHC’s Research Foundation seeks to answer that question in new research commissioned from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s enormous economic shock has stressed U.S. housing markets—particularly for the nation’s 44 million renter households, many of whom face escalating costs and deteriorating financial stability. Other countries around the world, too, face these challenges, but do so with sometimes vastly different legal systems, financial instruments, and policy frameworks underpinning their real estate markets.
With that in mind, we believe that this is a good moment to ask what lessons the U.S. can learn from other countries about helping people pay their rent. How are rental housing markets structured in other countries? What kinds of financial subsidies and legal protections do other countries’ renters have? Do other countries have similar challenges with housing supply?
To answer these questions, we asked researchers who study France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States to summarize key features of rental housing markets in those countries. We chose these countries because they have broadly similar household income levels (a key determinant of housing demand) and comparable financial systems (access to capital is crucial for housing development). However, their other economic, legal, and policy elements that influence housing markets are quite different—producing key variations in rental markets.
In this piece, we highlight a few of the important lessons drawn from comparing the six countries. Readers can also explore a wealth of specific details in each of the countries’ respective case studies.
NMHC thanks our founding sponsors for the Research Foundation for their generous support of these and other important research projects. They include: RealPage, Weidner Apartment Homes, Marcus & Millichap and Clyde & Rena Holland.