A third of millennials could still be renting by the time they retire, a report has warned.
And if current trends in home ownership continue, up to half of that generation – born between 1981 and 2000 – face the prospect of renting in their 40s.
The research, by think tank the Resolution Foundation, says a "generation of young people face the prospect of never owning their own home".
Around four in 10 millennials currently rent privately at age 30.
That is double the rate at the same age as Generation X – now in their forties – and four times that of the baby boomers, who were born in the 20 years after the Second World War.
"Britain's housing problems have developed into a full-blown crisis over recent decades and young people are bearing the brunt," said Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation.
"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," she said.
A record 1.8 million families with children now rent privately, according to the research, up from 600,000 15 years ago.
The Resolution Foundation recommends introducing indeterminate tenancies as the sole form of contract, following the lead of Scotland in a move that would guarantee stability for tenants.
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Landlords should not be able to end tenancies without good cause, it added, and policy should rest on a "fair balancing of the needs of tenants with the rights of landlords".
The report also recommended that rent rises should be fixed to the consumer price index and upped only over three-year periods.