Private renting rises to 16.5% of all English households

The steady decline of home ownership and the social rented sector, together with the unassailable rise of the private rented sector in the wake of the credit crisis, have been confirmed in latest Government figures.

The new 2010-2011 English Housing Survey shows that in that period, 66% of households (14.5m) were owner occupiers, down 1% from the previous year and continuing a trend observed since 2007.

The social rented sector last year accounted for 17.5% (3.8m households) and the private rented sector for 16.5% (3.6m households).

Thirty years ago, there were over 3m more tenants in the social housing sector than in the private rented sector. Now the gap is just 200,000.

Last year, a total of 394,000 new households were formed in England – and most (68%) were private tenants, forming 268,000 of the new households. Just 14% were owner occupiers (55,000 households) and 18% were social renters (71,000 households).

One key difference is that couples with no dependent children were the most common type of household in 2010-11 in both the owner occupied and private rental sectors (35% and 43% respectively).

However, in the social rented sector, the most common type of household (24%) was a single person aged 60 or over. In the social sector, 17% of tenants were lone parents with dependent children, and 12% of tenants in the private rented sector had the same status. The figures compared to just 3% of owner occupiers.

Last year, private rent was around twice that of social rents (an average weekly £160 compared to £79). In the same period, 63% of social renters and 25% or private tenants received Housing Benefit.

Another key difference is in length of tenure: 54% of private tenants had been in their home for under two years, whilst 59% of owner occupiers and 43% of social tenants had been in their home for ten years or longer.

Grenville Turner, chief executive of Countrywide, the UK’s largest estate agency chain, said of the survey: “Successive governments have widely encouraged home ownership but the impact of the recession has led to a structural change in the property market.

“The impact of this has caused an additional 275,000 new tenants to flood the private rental sector in 2011 – a 24% increase on the previous year.

“Current demand levels indicate that there will soon be more people in the private rental sector than social housing, which will only add to the already saturated demand and supply imbalance in the market.”

The full report – which contains much information about overcrowding, occupancy patterns, energy use and decent homes – can be found at the link below.