The English Housing Survey 2013-14 which has just been published is the latest available national survey of people’s housing circumstances and the condition and energy efficiency of housing in England.
In 2013-14, the private rented sector accounted for 4.4 million or 19% of households.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the proportion of private sector households stayed steady at around 10%.
However, the sector has undergone sharp growth since then and has doubled in size since 2002, driven by a number of factors.
(1) In the late 1990s rent controls were removed, and
(2) assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) became the standard, giving greater flexibility in the length of tenancies, and
(3) Lenders also introduced the buy-to-let mortgage at around the same time.
These factors coincided with rapid demographic change in England which brought: an increase in single living; more couples splitting-up; increased job insecurity; shorter employment contracts and more job mobility; increased immigration and a larger student population; and a housing shortage which rapidly increased house prices to the point where young first-time buyers found find it difficult to raise the money for a mortgage deposit.
Couple all of this with financial markets that have been extremely volatile and offer meagre returns on cash investments and those with capital to invest saw housing as a safe bet for buy-to-let type investment.
These changes brought to the scene a new breed of landlord, as far from the image of the traditional aristocratic land-owner you can get. Enter the middle class and working class landlords, 70% of whom own just one or two buy-to-lets which many of them see as their pension nest eggs. It has been estimated there are now around 2m such landlords in the UK.
The main findings – English Housing Survey 2013-14
– In 2013-14, the owner occupied sector remained the largest tenure. But for the first time, the proportion of households who owned outright was larger than the proportion who owned with a mortgage.
– There were an estimated 22.6 million households in England. Overall, 63% or 14.3 million were owner occupiers, of which 33% (7.4 million) owned outright and 31% (6.9 million) buying with a mortgage. This has changed from 2012-13, when equal proportions were owned outright and with a mortgage. The private rented sector remained larger than the social rented sector.
– In 2013-14, 19% (4.4 million) of households were renting privately, up from 18% in 2012-13 and 11% in 2003. The proportion of households renting social housing remained steady at 17% (3.9 million). Young households aged 25-34 were more likely to be renting privately than buying their own home.
– In 2013-14 almost half (48%) of all households aged 25-34 rented privately, up from 45% in 2012-13. The proportion in this age group living in the private rented sector has more than doubled from 21% in 2003-04. Over the same 10 years, owner occupation in this age group dropped from 59% to 36%. Average weekly private rents in London were consistently higher than outside of London from 2008-09 to 2013-14.
– In 2013-14, average weekly private rents were £281 in London and £145 outside of London. There was a smaller difference between average weekly social rents in London (£125) and outside London (£87). Almost twice the proportion of working households received housing benefit in 2013-14 than in 2008-09.
– In 2008-09, 19% of social renters in work received Housing Benefit, increasing to 32% in 2013-14. For working households in the private rented sector the proportion increased from 7% to 14% over the same period.
– Overcrowding remained uncommon in 2013-14, but under-occupation was far more prevalent, especially in the owner occupied sector.
– Only 1% of owner occupiers (212,000 households) were overcrowded in 2013-14 compared with 6% of social renters (236,000) and 5% of private renters (218,000).
– In contrast, half of all owner occupiers were under-occupying their home, substantially higher than private renters (15%) and social renters (10%). Housing and personal factors were associated with how satisfied someone is with their life.
– In 2013-14 the English Housing Survey asked well-being questions for the first time. Analysis has revealed that people’s personal and housing circumstances were associated with differences in their life satisfaction. The energy efficiency of the English housing stock continued to improve.
– The proportion of dwellings in the highest energy efficiency rating bands (A to C) increased from 2% in 1996 to 23% in 2013.
– Since 2001, the proportion of dwellings with condensing boilers has increased from 2% to around a half of homes (49%) in 2013 (11.3 million dwellings). The number of non-decent homes in England continued to decline.
– In 2013, 4.8 million dwellings (21%) failed to meet the decent homes standard, a reduction of 2.9 million homes since 2006, when around a third (35%) of homes failed to meet the decent home standard. Damp problems were more likely to be found in private rented dwellings than social rented or owner occupied dwellings.
– In 2013 about a million (999,000) homes (4%) had problems with damp, compared with 2.6 million (13%) homes in 1996. Some 8% of private rented dwellings had some type of damp problem, compared with 5% of social rented dwellings, and 3% of owner occupied dwellings, although private rented dwellings tended to be older properties more prone to damp problems.
– Housing association renters and households with couples with dependent children were most likely to have working smoke alarms.
– In 2013, 88% of households had at least one working smoke alarm in their home. Private renters were least likely to have at least one working smoke alarm (82%) and those in housing association properties were most likely (94%).
– Households consisting of a couple with dependent children were most likely to have a working smoke alarm (91%), whilst only 83% of households with a single person aged under 60 reported having a working smoke alarm.
– In 2013, 385,000 households (1.7%) had had a fire in the previous two years. Of these fires, 54% were associated with cooking, with one in every five being due to a pan of oil/fat or a grill-pan catching fire.
How English Housing Tenure has Changed, 1980 to 2013-14
Housing minister Brandon Lewis has thrown the future of the English Housing Survey into doubt when he says it has an “excessive” cost at £4m a year.
But landlord representatives from the Residential Landlords Association have written to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) saying that the survey is “a vital source of housing information and statistics, but particularly for statistics on the Private Rented Sector.”
English Housing Survey – Headline Report 2013-14
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Renting in England – "Doubled in Size Since 2002" – http://t.co/c4bLLCujPT
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