The government has launched a review of the private rental sector in England, which it hopes will improve conditions for landlords and tenants.
There are just under 2.6 million rental properties in England.
Researchers will examine the quality of rental properties, and assess the impact of the increase in buy-to-let investors and student tenants.
The review will also consider the possible effect of demographic changes.
The government has already introduced a scheme to guarantee tenants' deposits, and boosted rights to demand repairs.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said tenants in England rented almost 2.6 million homes from over half a million private landlords.
But a report from Citizens Advice published last year found that a fifth of tenants were dissatisfied with the quality of repairs carried out by their landlord.
Many said they feared retaliatory action if they complained to authorities.
At the same time landlords have reported problems with poor tenants not paying rent and anti-social behaviour.
"Most of us have rented a flat or house at some stage in our lives and the private rented sector is, at its best, a vital provider of good housing," said housing and planning minister Yvette Cooper.
"But too few people are aware of their rights and responsibilities, either as tenants or landlords.
"We have seen a big increase in the private rented sector and particularly in buy to let and it is important we review the impact of this."
The review will be led by Julie Rugg and David Rhodes from the Centre for Housing Policy at York University.
"Many people experience renting privately at some point in their lives, but private renting as a sector isn't well understood," said Ms Rugg.
"This is a good time for a review."
Researchers will also focus on the behaviour of unscrupulous letting agencies, an issue highlighted by the National Landlords Association (NLA).
The housing charity Shelter said the government's announcement was "warmly welcomed but long overdue".
"While the sector provides good quality homes for many people, there are also many still suffering at the hands of rogue landlords, and poor accommodation," said chief executive Adam Sampson.
"Rising house prices and a chronic lack of social housing mean more and more people are renting privately, so this review must ensure that tenants are given greater security and protection from bad landlords," he added.
NLA chairman David Salusbury said his organisation was looking forward to contributing to the debate.
"The vast majority of landlords are professional business people who take their responsibilities to tenants very seriously," he said.
"This is a chance for the whole sector to take stock and the NLA will be playing a major part in the consultation in due course."
The review team is expected to deliver its final report by the end of October.