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Private rented sector has doubled in size since 1990s

In 2015-16, 4.5 million households were renting in the private sector. This represents 20% of all households in England and is double the proportion of private renters recorded in the 1980s and 1990s, a new report has revealed.

The Government’s latest English Housing Survey also reveals that there are now 2.5 million more households in the private rented sector than there were in 2000 and that this increase is particularly pronounced among younger households who are more likely to rent in the private rented sector than to own their own home.

Generation rent

The report states that the proportion of those aged 25 to 34 who live in the private rented sector has increased from 24% in 2005-6 to 46% in 2015-16.  Running parallel to this there has been a decrease in the proportion of people in this age group in the owner occupied group, dropping from 56% in 2005-06 to 38% in 2015-16. The proportion of people in this age group in social rented housing has also dropped from 20% in 2005-06 to 16% in 2015-16.

As for the proportion of households with dependent children living in the private rented sector, in 2015-16 this stood at 36% - a 6% rise over ten years.  This equates to one million more households with dependent children living in the private rented sector. 

However, the increase in lone parent families with dependent families is particularly pronounced, having risen from 9% to 11% in the ten years between 2005-6 and 2015-16.  This represents an increase from 229,000 to 519,000 households and runs alongside a decrease of such households in the social rented sector.

The Government survey goes on to report that in 2015-16 21% of private renters were dissatisfied with their status as private renters, compared to 10% of social renters and less than 1% of owner occupiers.

Income vs rent

As for income versus rent, households in the private rented sector spent 35% (including Housing Benefit) of their income on rent, whereas on average, social renters spent 28%.  Private renters were however less likely to be in arrears, with just 9% of private renters missing payments, compared to 25% of social renters.

Transient households

The survey found that 787,000 households moved within the private rented sector in 2015-16, while 196,000 new households were created.

There were also 187,000 moves into the sector, of which 135,000 (72%) came from the owner occupied sector.  Meanwhile, there were 256,000 moves out of the private rented sector and of this 67% moved into owner occupied accommodation and 84,000 moved into the social rented sector.

Reasons for ending tenancies

Most private renters (73%) ended their last tenancy because they wanted too, according to the report, with a tenth of those surveyed saying that their landlord or agent ended it.

Those those who were moved on by their landlord, roughly two thirds (63%) were asked to leave due to the forthcoming sale of the property.

Rental standards

Private rented sector standards, in terms of energy efficiency and quality, still fall behind the social rented sector, the report found.

Overall, private rented stock was less energy efficient than social rented stock and the report explained that this may be due to the fact that the private rented sector uses older housing stock which is generally less well insulated.

Furthermore, 28% of private rented homes failed to meet the Decent Homes standard in 2015, compared to 13% of social rented housing.  However, the report noted an improvement in the proportion of non-decent private rented homes from 2006 to 2013 falling from 47% to 30%. Since then the proportion of non-decent homes in the sector has remained virtually unchanged, the report said.



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