Survey on English housing reveals gap between private and social renters

The third of a series of reports on the survey of English housing for 2003-04 is released today.

It focuses mainly on social renters and private renters and shows private renters pay, on average, about twice as much rent as social renters – but they earn, on average, more than twice as much as social renters.

Regionally, London had the highest average private rents – around 189 per week, while the North-East had the lowest rent levels at 72 per week.

The private rented sector is characterised by much higher turnover than the social sector, with about 40% of private renters having lived in their current accommodation for less than a year. Current private renters have spent 1.6 years in their current home compared to 7.5 years for social renters.

At 61%, the majority of household reference persons in the private sector work full time. The equivalent figure in the social rented sector is 22%.
From 1993 to 2004, the proportion of household reference persons aged 25 to 29 who were owner occupiers fell from 60% to 50% while the proportion who were private renters rose from 19% to 31%.

2.1 million households moved into private accommodation in the 12-month period prior to 2003/04. 357,000 of these (17% of the total) were newly-formed households, and of whom 162,000 moved into private renting, 74,000 into social renting and 122,000 into owner occupation.

The main reason cited for moving into the social rented sector varied according to the household’s previous tenure. For newly-formed households the main reason given was to live independently while for people moving out of owner occupation the main reason was divorce/separation or “other personal reasons”.

73% of all social sector tenants were allocated their accommodation within one year of their first application. Households in the South waited the longest to be allocated a home, with 40% of social tenants in London having to wait over a year. In the Midlands, 47% of social tenants waited less than three months.

Only 35% of social renters were happy with the choice of accommodation they were offered prior to being allocated a home. 52% of Housing Association tenants and 45% of council tenants thought the home they were eventually allocated met their needs very well. Of those receiving housing benefit 60% were social renters and 22% were private renters.

The number of private renters receiving housing benefit has fallen over the past 10 years from 580 thousand in 1993/94 to 434 thousand in 2003/04. In 2003/04 about 12% of social renters said they had been in arrears with their rent during the previous year. This represents a decline from 18% in 1999/2000.