Private rented sector households in England doubles in 20 years

The number of people living in homes in the private rented sector in England had doubled in the last 20 years with a rise in middle aged people renting, an official survey shows.

However, most people renting a home are happy with it and the majority still aspire to owning their own home, according to the latest additions to the English Housing Survey published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Overall, it shows that the private rented sector remains the second largest tenure in England, accounting for 20% of households in England, with the number doubling from 2.1million in 1996/1997 to 4.7 million in 2016/2017.

The sector grew a little between 1996/1997 and 2006/2007, but growth accelerated after that with over two million additional households added to the sector. However, growth appears to have slowed in more recent years.

With the exception of those aged 75and over, the number of private renters has increased across all age groups. The number of private tenants aged 16 to 24 has increased from 365,000 to 513,000 even though the proportion has decreased from 18% to 11%.

The report also shows that where the proportion of private renters has increased, the increase in numbers has been particularly pronounced. There were more than three times as many 35 to 44 year olds renting privately in 2016/2017 than 20 years ago, an increase from 331,000 to 1.1 million.

While the majority of private renters are satisfied with their accommodation and their status as private renters, the majority of private renters also expect to buy their own home at some point in the future.

Some 84% said that they were satisfied with their current accommodation, while 68% were either very or fairly satisfied with their current tenure. This makes them more likely to be satisfied with their current accommodation than social renters at 81% but less likely to be satisfied with their current tenure than social renters at 83%.

In 2016/2017 some 60% of private tenants stated that they expected to buy a property at some point in the future, unchanged from 2006/2007. By comparison, 30% of social renters expect to buy.

The survey also found that the energy efficiency and quality of the private rented sector has improved considerably, with the proportion of non-decent homes down, but overall it is still behind the social rented sector.

In 2016, the average SAP rating among private rented homes was 60. This average rating was similar to owner occupied homes, although the distribution of EER bands varied. Overall the private rented stock was less energy efficient than the social rented stock which had an average SAP rating of 67.

The survey says that this difference is partly explained by the private rented sector having an ‘older’ housing stock which is generally less well insulated.

It also found that 27% of private rented homes failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard in 2016. The comparative figure for social sector rented sector was 13%. Although the private rented sector has always performed less well than other tenures using this measure of housing quality, the prevalence of non-decent homes in the private rented sector has reduced since 2006 when 47% of homes were classed as non-decent.


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