English-language literature on the relationship between home and dwelling has largely focused on the benefits of homeownership and (to a lesser extent) social rental in facilitating ontological security. Less consideration has been given to the experiences of private tenants. This paper draws on findings of a study on security of occupancy to discuss the ability of private renters to exercise control over their dwellings in Australia. The paper discusses the limitations of Australian legislation, within its policy, market and cultural context, in enabling private tenants to exercise control over their dwellings, and compares the Australian situation with Germany to demonstrate that alternative approaches that afford more control to private tenants are possible in rental systems dominated by private rental. The paper concludes with a call for a wider debate about the importance of home and the impact of social norms regarding the purpose of different types of tenure on housing policy and thus on the rights and well-being of tenants.