English Housing Survey releases first data

The English Housing Survey (EHS), a national survey of people's housing circumstances and the condition and energy efficiency of housing in England, has released the first tranche of findings from its 2015-16 survey.

It reports that owner-occupation rates remain unchanged for the third year in a row. Of the estimated 22.8 million households in England, 14.3 million or 63% were owner occupiers. The proportion of households in owner occupation increased steadily from the 1980s to 2003 when it reached its peak of 71%. Since then, owner occupation gradually declined to its current level. However, while the overall rate of owner occupation has not changed in recent years, the composition of the group has: there are more outright owners while the proportion of those buying with a mortgage is down.

In 2015-16, 34% of households were outright owners while 29% were mortgagors. Since 2013-14 there have been more outright owners than mortgagors, and the proportion of mortgagors has declined (from 31% of households in 2013-14 to 29% in 2015-16). This is at least partly explained by an ageing population, with large numbers of baby boomers reaching retirement age, paying off their mortgages and moving into outright ownership.

In the rented sector, the private sector remains larger than the social sector. In 2015-16, the private rented sector accounted for 4.5 million or 20% of households. The social rented sector accounted for 3.9 million households or 17% of households. There was no change in the size of either sector between 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Over the last decade, the number of families in the private rented sector has increased while the number of families in the social rented sector has decreased. Between 2005-06 and 2015-16, the proportion of households in the private rented sector with children increased from 30% to 36%. Given the sizable growth in the overall number of private renters over this period, this six percentage point increase equates to about 945,000 more households in the private rented sector with children.

Over the same 10-year period, the proportion of households in the social rented sector with children decreased from 36% to 32%, which translates to around 123,000 fewer households in the social rented sector with children. There was no change in the proportion of outright owner and mortgagor households with children.

However, the proportion of social renters who expect to buy at some point in the future has increased. No such increase was observed among private renters.

Private renters spend a significantly greater proportion of their income on housing than social renters or those buying with a mortgage. On average, those buying their home with a mortgage spent 18% of their household income on mortgage payments whereas rent payments were 28% of household income for social renters and 35% of household income for private renters.

Rates of overcrowding were unchanged in the private rented and owner occupied sectors, but increased slightly in the social rented sector. Meanwhile, about half of owner-occupied households are under-occupied.

The number and proportion of under-occupied households in the owner-occupied sector increased significantly between 1995-96 and 2015-16 from 39% (5.3 million households) to 52% (7.4 million households). In contrast, the proportion of under-occupied households in the rented sectors decreased over this period. 

In the area of energy efficiency, the proportion of dwellings with the highest energy efficiency rating has increased considerably in the last 10 years, particularly in the social rented sector. In 2015, 28% of dwellings had an energy efficiency rating of A-C, up from just 5% of dwellings in 2005. Almost half (48%) of dwellings in the social rented sector had an energy efficiency rating of A-C compared with 26% in the private rented sector and 24% of owner occupied homes.

While the majority of homes had at least one working smoke alarm, only about a quarter had a carbon monoxide alarm. The English Housing Survey’s report will be followed up by a series of more detailed topic reports.




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