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English Housing Survey

English Housing Survey

Every year, the Government produces the English Housing Survey, which takes a look at how and where we are living today. If you are thinking of investing in the housing market, as many of our customers at Phillip Arnold Auctions are, it will provide you with some valuable insights.

So, where do we live?

The vast majority of the UK’s households are owner-occupiers (65%), 19% are housed in privately rented accommodation and the remaining 16% are social renters. With the cost of buying a house in London far higher, there were considerably fewer owner-occupiers (49%) and far more private renters (31%) in the capital. Shockingly, across the UK, there were 1.1 million vacant homes.

Homeownership has been falling for some time, the number of private renters has been rising and social rental numbers have nosedived. From its all-time high in 2003, the proportion of owner-occupiers has come down from 71% to 65%. The number of households in the private rented sector (PRS), on the other hand, has nearly doubled. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, between 9% and 11% of households were in the PRS. That figure now hovers between 19% and 20%. At the same time, the social rented sector has sunk to its lowest ever level (16%). It’s local authority housing that has fallen the most, currently providing accommodation for just 6% of households, with housing associations taking up the slack at 10%.

Unsurprisingly, it's the young who dominate the private rental sector and the old who form the majority of owner-occupiers. The number of social renters, however, is consistent across all the age groups, suggesting that the sector tends to be very static, with few people moving on once they are in it.

What kind of homes do we live in?

It’s private sector renters who tend to live in the oldest buildings rather than owner-occupiers, with 31% of their homes built before 1919. For owner-occupiers, the figure was 20% and 7% for public sector tenants. As you might expect, a large percentage of public sector housing is comprised of tower blocks and a significant proportion of private rented stock is in converted houses.

When it comes to the size of our properties, the average usable floor space was 97m2. Social rented homes tended to be smaller at 67m2, private rented homes were 76m2, and owner-occupied homes were the largest at 111m2.

There is no doubt rising energy costs are having a serious effect on all our homes, driving improvements in energy efficiency. Over the last 10 years, the proportion of homes in the highest energy efficiency bands (A to C) increased from 19% to 48%. Homes in the social rented sector saw an even bigger rise, going from 36% to 70%.

And they are in better all-round condition, too. Between 2019 and 2022, the number of non-decent owner-occupied homes fell from 16% to 14% and from 12% down to 10 % for social rented ones. Damp problems, though, are on the increase. Pre-pandemic, 3% of housing stock had a problem with damp, but that figure is now 4%. It’s even more of a problem in the PRS, where the percentage rose from 7% to 9% over the same period.

How are we paying for it all?

Half of all the principal householders were working full-time, 10% were working part-time and 29% were retired. Roughly 2% of households were unemployed, 1% were in full-time education and 7% were ‘other inactive’, which includes anyone with a long-term illness or disability and those looking after the family or home. Owner occupiers tend to have the highest income, social renters the lowest and private renters’ income had a far more even spread.

The cost-of-living crisis and the rising base rate have been putting a lot of pressure on finances. More than a quarter of private renters were reporting difficulties paying their rent (29%), social renters were at similar levels at 27% and 11% of owner-occupiers were having difficulties paying their mortgages.

It has also made it far harder to get on the housing ladder – 36% needed help from family or friends to pay for the deposit, which was a significant increase from the 27% in the previous year.

And are we happy where we are?

According to the statistics, homeownership really is the route to happiness. Owner occupiers are not only the most satisfied with their lot (78%), they are also most convinced that life is worthwhile (80%), the happiest (77%) and the least anxious (28%). Social renters are the least happy (69%) and the most stressed (36%). Private renters are slap-bang in the middle.

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