The latest English Housing Survey was released last month, covering the period from April 2012 to March 2013, based on field surveys of a sample of 13,652 households.
The survey covers all housing tenures but has a particular resonance for private renters. As has been widely reported, the PRS is now the second largest housing tenure behind home ownership, at four million households. This amounts to 9.1 million private renters in England, calculated multiplying the number of households by average PRS renter size. Unfortunately the statistics do not paint a good picture for private renters and show why campaigning on these issues is so vital.
The growing gap between stagnating incomes and rising rents was also clearly shown, with the proportion of private renters receiving housing benefit up to 25% from 19% in 2008/09, as well as the effect of councils being able to discharge their homelessness duty in the PRS, seeing more low-income households now privately renting. Rising costs were further emphasised by the increase in average private rents from £153 to £163 over the same period.
The failure of the PRS to act as a stable and long-term housing option remains a huge problem, with 34% of privately renting households having lived in their home for less than a year, and 80% for less than five years.
Furthermore, conditions remained worst for private renters, with 33% of PRS stock failing to meet the Decent Homes standard. Proportionally, this was a marked decrease from 47% in 2006, but due to the increase in the size of the PRS, the total number of non-decent homes actually remained the same. The PRS was also the tenure most likely to have damp problems of some kind, amounting to 9% of all privately rented households.
The latest English Housing Survey shows why it is vital that a concerted political and community campaign is developed to improve the PRS. The sector is growing and housing more and more people, yet conditions and affordability remain greater problems than in other tenures and length of occupancy remains shortest. Generation Rent will be working alongside local tenants’ groups to change this situation and to make the PRS worth living in.
We have the power to challenge these problems, but it can only happen if we come together. Sign up now for more information and to get involved in campaigning where you live.