Over the past 20 years, the private rented sector has doubled in size, overtaking the social rented sector as the second largest tenure type in England. Meanwhile, the profile of these private renters has also changed.
The English Housing Survey (EHS) provides data on the circumstances of households and the condition of the housing stock across England, and a clear picture of how this has changed over time.
With rising house prices, it’s perhaps not that surprising that first time buyers are now more likely to be couples, are on average older, have higher relative incomes and are more likely to rely on inheritance or gifts from family and friends in order to afford their first home than their counterparts were 20 years ago.
This changing profile of those moving into home ownership is reflected in the changing profile of the rented sectors. In the last ten years the proportion of privately renting households with dependent children increased from 30% to 36%, according to the EHS. This equates to 945,000 more households with children living in the private rented sector than ten years ago, bringing the total to 1.6 million households in 2015-16. As a result, the private rented sector now has a higher proportion of households with dependent children than either owner occupiers (26%) or social renters (32%). At the same time, the proportion of social rented households with dependent children has decreased, from 36% in 2005-6 to 32% in 2015-16.
The increase in families with children living in the private rented sector has potential policy and social implications. For example, households who live in the private rented sector typically move home more frequently than those in both the owner occupied and social rented sectors, and so being a private renter potentially offers less long-term stability than other tenures might. The private rented sector remains the tenure with the highest proportion of non-decent homes, at 28%, though this has improved considerably over the last 20 years. Similarly, the EHS tells us that while the energy efficiency and quality of housing in the private rented sector has improved significantly, standards on both of these measures still lag behind the social rented sector.
The EHS is now its 50th year, and continues to provide insight into how the profile of English housing has changed over time, helping to identify and understand processes of change and key areas of policy need.
Read all of the reports from the English Housing Survey.