Please Note: This Article is 8 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Buy to let homes and social housing are the most overcrowded properties in England and Wales, according to new data from the Office of National Statistics.

Buy to let homes and social rented housing are likely to be four times as crowded as private owned homes.
Around 1.1 million homes are considered overcrowded – split as 8.7% of all social housing, 8.6% of private rentals and just 2.3% of private owned homes.

Out of 23 million homes, the survey found 82% of private owned homes had at least one empty bedroom, compared with 50% of private rentals and 39% of social housing.

The survey also found 18% of all housing was buy to let homes – which amounts to 4.2 million properties, including houses, flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

Of these buy to let homes:

  • 636,000 had two or more spare bedrooms
  • 1.45 million had one spare bedroom
  • 1.78 million had no spare bedrooms
  • 362,000 homes were overcrowded

The report gives three reasons for overcrowding in buy to let homes –

  • Families cannot afford to rent a home with the number of bedrooms they need
  • Some renters prefer to live in a smaller house while saving to buy a home of their own
  • Some neighbourhoods may have a shortage of larger private rentals for big families

The data also gives a breakdown of the type of households renting private buy to let homes –

  • 23% of renters live with dependent children – with 8% as lone parents and 22% as couples
  • 77% of renters have no dependent children – 38% are single renters, 30% are couples and 1% are lone parents.

Some figures do not add to 100% because of rounding and ‘other’ responses.

“Of the 1.1 million overcrowded households in England and Wales in March 2011, over two-thirds (68%, 724,000) were households with dependent children, while the remaining 32% were without dependent children,” says the report.

“Couples with dependent children were the most common household type among overcrowded households, accounting for almost 3 in 10 (28%) overcrowded households, while lone parents and ‘other’ households with dependent children each accounted for around a fifth.

“Among overcrowded households without dependent children, those in the ‘other’ household category were the most common household type, accounting for over a fifth (22%) of overcrowded households. This household type includes multi-person and student households.”

Please Note: This Article is 8 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


  1. An interesting post with some very eye-opening statistics. I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that families cannot afford the living costs and average private home price. Most people buy homes to let in an effort to see some sort of investment and profit in the long run but finding the right tenants can be a struggle. Is there any advice landlords can be given when they choose to buy a property to let? I think that student housing is a bulk of the issue too.


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