PHOTO: Not all long-term tenants are simply renting because they can’t afford a deposit.AAP: James Ross

The private rental sector has expanded at more than twice the rate of the increase in Australian households in the last two decades.

This increasingly diverse form of tenure now houses about one in four of us.

Australia’s lightly regulated private rental sector means the insecurity of tenants is a key factor in why most Australians aspire to own their home.

However, despite this insecurity, our research suggests an increase in people choosing to rent for a long time — 10 years or more — accounts for a small part of the growth in private renters.

Much of this growth is attributable to middle and high-income tenants. Especially in Melbourne and Sydney, high housing prices mean saving for a deposit takes much longer than in the 1990s.

In the meantime these households are renting for a long time.

‘Who stays put, loses’

In our survey of 600 private renters in different areas of Sydney and Melbourne, we asked: “Many people are renting privately for longer periods (10+ years). Do you think this is a positive trend?”