Up to a third of young people face living in private rented accommodation all their lives, a new report by the Resolution Foundation has found.
The think tank said 40% of “millennials” – those born between 1980 and 1996 – were living in rented housing by the age of 30.
That was twice as many as “generation X” – those born between 1965 and 1980.
The government said it was already putting policies in place to improve the housing market.
The Foundation’s Home Improvements report said “generation rent” needed much more help. It called for more affordable homes for first-time buyers to be built, as well as better protection for those who rent.
Although renting is often a reasonable choice for people who have few ties, the private rented sector is “far less fit for purpose” for those with children because of a lack of security.
The report reveals that a record 1.8 million families with children rent privately, up from 600,000 15 years ago.
It adds that while housing benefit should be able to help millennial families, its value has been reduced relative to the generation who came before them.
Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Britain’s housing problems have developed into a full-blown crisis 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 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.”