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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Eight things we learned from the English Housing Survey and English Private Landlord Survey 2017-18


CIH head of policy and external affairs Melanie Rees delves into the detail of two major housing reports published today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Home ownership remains static: Owner occupation rates remain unchanged for the fifth year in a row – of the estimated 23.2 million households in England, 14.8 million or 64% were owner occupiers. However, after more than a decade of decline, the proportion of 35-44 year-olds in owner occupation has increased, from 52% in 2016-17 to 57% in 2017-18.

The private rented sector has doubled in size since 2002 and now houses many more families with children: In 2017-18, the private rented sector accounted for 4.5 million households – that’s 19% of all households in England, making it the second biggest tenure after home ownership. And the number of families with children living in the private rented sector has jumped by 37 per cent from 1.1 million in 2010/11 to 1.6 million in 2017/18. This is one of the reasons why we’ve supported the government’s proposals to offer more security to private renters – families need to be able to put down roots and know that their children’s schooling won’t be disrupted every few months.

Standards are poorest in the private rented sector: A quarter of homes for private rent failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard, compared with 13 per cent in the social rented sector. Our recent report with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health reveals that selective licensing schemes are helping councils tackle dangerous properties for private rent – but they could be even more effective with more government support.

Most people living in social housing are either in work, retired or unable to work: Among social renters, 41% were working, while over a quarter were retired and a quarter aren’t able to work because they have a long-term illness or disability or they look after their family or home.

Private renters spend the biggest proportion of their income on housing costs: 33% compared with 28% for social renters and 17% for people with a mortgage

The proportion of working renters who receive housing benefit has increased: Perhaps indicating the worsening affordability crisis, the proportion of renters who work but still need to claim housing benefit has risen since 2008/09 - from 7% to 12% for private renters and from 19% to 29% for social renters.

Worryingly, a significant proportion of private landlords and agents are unwilling to let to people who receive housing benefit or universal credit: According to the English Private Landlord Survey, 52% of landlords and 37% of agents were unwilling to let to people who receive housing benefit, while 47% and 33% respectively were unwilling to let to people who receive universal credit. This is further confirmation that the private rented sector is becoming increasingly inaccessible for people on low incomes – our research has found that even the lowest private rents are now out of reach, putting thousands at increased risk of homelessness. More than 90 per cent of Local Housing Allowance rates (housing benefit for private renters) across Great Britain now fail to cover the cheapest rents, as they were originally designed to do.

Some private landlords and agents are unwilling to let to non-UK passport holders: A quarter of landlords and 10% of agents – although the private landlord survey said reasons for this weren’t explored, it could be down to the ‘right to rent’ scheme which came into force in England in 2016. The scheme requires landlords to carry out checks on the immigration status of potential tenants, as part of a government drive to create a “hostile environment for illegal migrants”. CIH has consistently raised concerns that it could lead to discrimination against people who landlords believe to be foreign or indeed who don’t have a straightforward British passport.

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