The English Housing Survey has been running since 1967 and presents annual housing trends. It collects information on housing conditions, energy efficiency and key statistics relating to the housing circumstances of people across England.
Following on from a year of economic slowdown and higher interest rates, the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing has just published the initial findings of the English Housing Survey for 2021-22 on the government website. More detailed research reports on the individual topics explored in the survey are expected in the summer of 2023.
This article provides a snapshot of the key initial findings of the survey.
In England, owner occupiers (i.e. people who own their homes outright or who are on a mortgage) represent the largest proportion of households.
In 2021-22, this group made up a total of 15.6 million (64%) of all households. 35% of this proportion own their own homes outright and 30% are on mortgages.
Unsurprisingly, the proportion of ownership is lower in London compared with the rest of England, representing just 49% of households, of which 22% are owned outright and 27% are mortgaged. On average, outright owners are aged 65 or over and owners on mortgages are aged between 35 and 54.
The number of first time buyers in 2021-22 was 852,000, down by 100,000 from the previous year. Owner occupiers whose homes are mortgaged spend around 22% of their income on housing.
The Private Rented Sector
In England, the private rented sector accounts for 4.6 million (19%) of all homes. The majority of people living in the private rented sector are aged under 45 years.
There are more private renters in London than anywhere else in England, representing a total of 29% of households in the capital.
Private renters spend a higher percentage of their income (around 38%) on housing costs, more than any other tenure. They are also more likely to move homes frequently.
According to government data, private renters in England live in the tenure with the highest proportion of non-decent dwellings, with 23% of homes in the private rented sector failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard. Homes that fail to meet this standard are likely to be in a serious state of disrepair and pose various risks to their residents.
Homes in the private rented sector are also less likely to be energy efficient than accommodation in the social housing sector or homes that are owned outright or mortgaged.
Around 11% of homes in the private rented sector have problems with damp, three times the amount of owner occupied homes and homes in the social housing sector. This poses a health and safety risk to private renters across England.
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People renting in the social housing sector make up around 4 million (17%) of the households in England and 22% of households in London.
This is the smallest tenure in England and has been steadily shrinking in size in the last decade. Renters in the social housing sector rent from local authorities or housing associations. On average, renters in this sector spend around 37% of their income on housing costs.
Homes in the social housing sector are more likely to be overcrowded than homes in the private rented sector and owner occupied homes.
The Road Ahead
Overall, the findings of the survey indicate a need for a range of improvements across and board, but particularly in relation to the private rented sector.
It has been clear for years that an overhaul of the private rented sector is long overdue. The Renters Reform Bill will go some way towards improving conditions for private renters if it is passed into law. It proposes to ban no-fault evictions, extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector and regulate rent increases.
The conditions of existing homes should also be improved. Landlords, local authorities and housing associations failing to address health and safety hazards in renters' homes should face stricter penalties.
There is also a case to be made for increasing the supply of affordable homes across England. This will ensure that more people can move up the property ladder and create a more sustainable housing market in England that will better cater for the country's long-term housing needs.
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