The rates of home ownership remained stable in 2018-19, although overcrowding increased, especially in the private rented sector (PRS), according to the results of the Government’s latest English Housing Survey (EHS).
Of the estimated total of 23.5 million households in England in 2018-19, 15 million (64%) were owner-occupied, 4.6 million (19%) were privately rented and 4 million (17%) were in the social housing sector.
Overcrowding increases in the PRS
From the 1980s to the early 2000s, approximately 10% of households lived in rented property, although the sector has virtually doubled in size since 2002.
But the number of private renters living in overcrowded accommodation grew from 3% in 1998-99 to 6% in 2018-19, demonstrating growing demand but a shortage of homes to meet this need. However, the quality of rented housing has improved substantially in the past few years for many tenants in the private sector.
The EHS estimated in 2008 that 33% of housing stock was assessed as substandard. But this figure had fallen to 18% by 2018. Nonetheless, the EHS commented that the improvement had appeared to come to a standstill in the last couple of surveys.
At the beginning of the year, housing charity Shelter revealed that a significant number of tenants in rented properties were suffering illness as a result of defects in their accommodation which led to worsening living conditions.
The charity identified those living in coastal areas as being especially vulnerable, as many homes in these locations had been minimally designed and constructed for short-term occupation as holiday homes.
Improved energy efficiency
The latest survey gives a welcome boost to the move towards greener homes. The energy efficiency of homes, as measured by the standard assessment procedure (SAP) rating system, revealed improvements compared to 2017, an increase from 62 points in 2017 to 63 points in 2018.
Additionally, the number of homes assessed as being in the highest band of energy efficiency (A to C) increased from 9% in 2008 to a heartening 34% of homes in 2018. Conversely, those in the lower bands (F and G) fell from 14% to 4% during the same period.
The improvement in energy efficiency has been attributed to the roll-out of smart meters, which had been installed in 22% of homes by 2018. Although overheating, a sign of inefficient central heating, remains an issue for owner-occupiers and tenants living in newly built homes or high-rise flats, and affecting at least one area of the home.
The issue indicates that there is room for improvement with regard to the design and installation of heating systems in new-build properties, to ensure that they are properly balanced and distribute heat evenly around the home.
Number of younger owner-occupiers increased in 2018-19
The EHS also shows that more people under the age of 34 are now classed as owner-occupiers, helped by schemes to assist younger home owners purchase a property.
The research, released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), found the proportion of those aged 25-34 in owner- occupation increased from 33% in 2013-14 to 41% in 2018-19.
The introduction of Help to Buy schemes in 2013 and the later Stamp Duty Land Tax relief offered to first-time buyers in 2017 has evidently had a positive effect on the ability of would-be owners to gain a foothold on the property ladder. However, the number of private renters aged 25-34 has risen from 41% in 2013-14 to 48% in 2018-19.
Despite the increase in younger home owners last year, the number of owner-occupiers has remained unchanged at 15 million for the sixth consecutive year. While younger buyers are thriving, more people aged 55-64 are choosing rented accommodation with 10% of this age group dependent on the rental market, a 3% increase since 2008.
In addition, owner-occupation among those aged 55-64 has declined from 79% to 73% over the last decade.
Recent Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data indicated that SDLT receipts fell by 5.2% in 2018-19 to around £14 billion with first-time buyers’ relief contributing to this loss.