The English Housing Survey (EHS) is a national survey of people’s housing circumstances and the condition and energy efficiency of housing in England.

It is one of the longest standing government surveys, and was first run in 1967. This report provides the findings from the 2019-20 survey.

Owner Occupied Housing
Owner occupation is made up of two distinct groups: outright owners and those buying with a mortgage (‘mortgagors’). In 2019-20, overall owner occupiers account for 15.4 million households, or 65% of the estimated 23.8 million households in England.

Since 2013-14 there have been more outright owners than mortgagors and now 35% of owner occupied households are outright owners while 30% are buying with a mortgage.

While owner occupation rates did not increase between 2018-19 and 2019-20, overall the rates are up from 2016-17.

Since 2013-14 there have been more outright owners than mortgagors (i.e. households with a mortgage). In 2019-20, 35% of households were outright owners while 30% were buying with a mortgage.

The increase in the number and proportion of outright owners is at least partly explained by population ageing, with large numbers of ‘baby boomers’ reaching retirement age, paying off their mortgages and moving into outright ownership.

Household tenure trends

The Rented Sector
In 2019-20, the private rented sector accounted for 4.4 million or 19% of households, no change from 2018-19, but lower than in 2016-17 (20%).

The social rented sector, at 4.0 million households (17%), is the smallest tenure, following a long downward trend which stabilised over the last decade or so.

When compared with the other English regions, London has a very different tenure profile. Renting is more prevalent and owner occupation (both buying with mortgage and outright owners) is less prevalent in London than in the rest of England.

Demographic and Economic Factors
Not surprisingly, outright owners were concentrated among the older age bands, while mortgagors were typically in the middle age bands.

In 2019-20, 63% of outright owner households had a HRP* aged 65 or over, while 59% of households with a mortgage had a HRP aged 35-54. About two thirds (67%) of households in the private rented sector had a HRP aged under 45 years.

*The HRP is the household reference person which is the ‘householder’ in whose name the accommodation is owned or rented

This variation by age was less apparent in social rented households, where 18% of households had a HRP aged 16-34, 17% aged 35-44 and 22% aged 45-54. The most prevalent group in the social rented sector were households with a HRP aged 65 or over (26%)

Notably, there was a considerable increase in the proportion of 35-44 year olds in the private rented sector (from 17% in 2009-10 to 27% in 2019-20) There has also been an increase in the number and proportion of people aged 55-64 living in the private rented sector (from 7% in 2009-10 to 10% in 2019-20).

Household type varies widely by tenure. Reflecting their older age profile, outright owner households were predominately couples with no dependent children (45%) and also lone female households (22%). While lone males were more likely to be private renters than owner occupiers, lone females were more likely to be owner occupiers.

Couples with and without dependent children predominate among mortgagors, while the social rented sector had the highest proportion of single person households. Almost a quarter (23%) of social renters were lone females, 18% were lone males.

The proportion of households with children varied by tenure. Some 45% of households buying with a mortgage had dependent children compared with just 8% of outright owners. In comparison, 36% of private renters and 34% of social renters had dependent children,

61% of households that owned outright had a retired HRP, consistent with the older age profile of this group. Over a third (36%) of outright owners were working (either full- or part-time). In contrast, most (92%) mortgagors were working, with 83% in full-time work and 9% in part-time work. Just 5% of mortgagors were retired.

Over three quarters (77%) of private renters were working, with two thirds (67%) in full-time work and 10% in part-time work. Smaller proportions of private renters were retired (8%), in full-time education (4%), or unemployed (3%).

Among social renters, 45% were working, with 31% in full-time work and 14% in part-time work. A quarter (25%) of social renters were retired. Around a quarter (24%) were in full-time education or ‘inactive’, a group which includes those who have a long-term illness or disability and those who were looking after the family or home.

First Time Buyers
In 2019-20, there were around 827,000 first time buyers in England, 100,000 more compared to last year in 2018-19.

In 2019-20, the average age of first time buyers was 32 years. In London, the average age of first time buyers was higher at 34 years, compared to 32 years in the rest of England.

In 2019-20, 45% of first time buyer households were couples without dependent children, 31% were couples with dependent children, while 19% were one person households

With an average (mean) deposit of £42,433 (£23,600 median), it is not surprising that 62% of first time buyers were in the upper two income quintiles (over £35,700 per annum)

Related Trend Updates: