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English Housing Survey results continue to challenge tenure assumptions


Published: 15 March 2011 | Author: Bernard Clarke

The total number of home-owning households in England has declined by 300,000, while the number of households renting privately has increased by a million between 2005/6 and 2009/10, according to the newly published headline report of the government’s official 2009/10 English Housing Survey.

The proportion of home-owning households is now 67.4% (down from 67.9% the previous year), while the proportion of those renting privately is 15.6%.

According to the English Housing Survey estimates, 6.8 million households in England own outright, while 7.7 million have a mortgage. Nearly four in 10 (38%) of mortgaged households consisted of a couple with dependent children, compared with only 6.5% of outright owners, while 27% of outright owners consisted of one person aged 60 or over, compared with only 2% of mortgaged households.

Older households are clearly more likely to own outright. Among mortgaged households, 90% were working - 83% full-time and 7% part-time, and only 4% were retired. In contrast, 61% of those who owned outright were retired.

In terms of reliance on state support, 62% of social renters and 24% of private renters received housing benefit to help with the payment of their rent.

Comparing the characteristics of the housing stock, home-owners were more likely than renters to live in semi-detached (30%) or detached (23%) houses, but less likely to live in purpose-built flats (6.7%). The prevalence of bungalows and terraced houses was fairly similar, although privately rented bungalows were rare.

Home-owners were more likely to live in suburban or rural areas than renters, and more likely to have homes with a greater number of bedrooms than the notional "bedroom standard". Nearly 26% of home-owners had four or more bedrooms, compared to only 11% of private renters and 3% of social renters. However, 29% of owner-occupied homes failed to meet the "decent homes standard", compared with only 20% of housing association dwellings – although the sector with the highest proportion was the private rented sector, where 41% failed to meet the standard.

Once again, the headline findings of the English Housing Survey potentially challenge standard tenure assumptions. The owner-occupied sector – perhaps especially the owned-outright sector and its older households who are likely to find repair and maintenance more burdensome – does include a proportion of those living in poverty, or in sub-optimal housing conditions. More detail will be available when the full findings of the English Housing Survey are published later in the year.