Housing affordability is a critical problem within the Italian housing system, especially for households in the rental sector. Several other issues also call for an informed discussion on policies towards this sector and social housing. These issues include criticalities in the national routes to homeownership, the hidden housing demand coming from young adults still in the parental nest, internal and external migration trends, including refugee flows. This special issue focuses on policies towards the rental sector in Italy. Contributions discuss tenacy law and rent regulations, and social housing in comparative and historical perspective. Two major issues within the social housing sector are also discussed: arrears as an affordability problem for renters and as a financial sustainability problem for social landlords; internal mobility of social renters to the purpose of optimal allocation dwellings, and participated processes in estate renewal.