This article sets out a theoretical framework for the political economy of the private rental sector, with a particular focus on the question of inequality. It brings together three existing bodies of research. First, macro-accounts of social stratification and wealth inequality. Second, Marxian critiques of the antagonism between accumulation and social reproduction. Third, qualitative accounts of tenants’ experiences of housing inequality. The article synthesises these three literatures to put forward a political economy approach which can capture the multi-dimensional and multi-scale nature of both ‘housing’ and ‘home’ in the private rental sector. In so doing, it contributes to recent research on ‘generation rent’, in particular the related class and generational inequalities, as well as wider debates on the political economy of housing.