English housing survey: Private Rented Sector report, 2014-15

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published its latest English Housing Survey.

The English Housing Survey is a national survey of people's housing circumstances and covers the household characteristics of private renters, the type and condition of housing in the private rented sector, and how this changed in the last 20 years.

Main findings of the survey are as follows:

  • The private rented sector has undergone rapid growth in the last 10 years;
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of families in rented accommodation;
  • Private renters are less satisfied with their tenure than owner occupiers and social renters, but satisfaction has increased since 2004-05;
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of private renters who were charged a fee(s) on entering their current accommodation. These were sometimes hidden by the agent or landlord;
  • Most tenants paid a deposit when they moved into their accommodation and nearly two thirds of their landlords paid this into a government authorised deposit scheme;
  • Dwelling condition and safety in the private rented sector has improved since 1996.

Growth in private rented sector

In 2014-15, 19% of all households were private renters. This equates to 4.3 million households. The private rented sector has increased by 82% since 2004-05 when 11% of households were private renters (2.3 million households). Between 1994-95 and 2004-05 the private rented sector saw a much smaller increase with 10% of all households in the sector in 1994-95.

More families in rental accommodation

The proportion of households with dependent children increased in the 10 years between 2004-05 and 2014-15. In 2004-05, 25% of private renters were either couples or lone parents with dependent children; by 2014-15 this figure had increased to 36%.

Private tenants happier with tenure

The private rented sector has seen an increase in overall satisfaction with their tenure from 48% in 2004-05 to 65% in 2014-15. Older private renters tended to be most satisfied with their tenure, while private renters in the middle age categories were least satisfied: 90% of private renters aged 75 or older cited feeling satisfied compared with 60% of 35-44 year-olds and 71% of 16-24 year olds.

12 months most common tenancy duration

In 2014-15, most private renters had an initial tenancy agreement of six or 12 months; 48% had an agreement of 12 months and 39% of six months. A further 4% had a tenancy agreement lasting 18 months, while 6% had one lasting more than 18 months. Just 2% had an initial tenancy agreement lasting less than six months.

Increase in fees charged by letting agents

Private renters were asked whether they were charged a fee (excluding any deposit) by a landlord or letting agency in their tenancy: 40% said that they were, up from 34% in 2009-10. When asked what type of fee(s) they had paid, 65% of private renters said they paid an admin fee, 33% paid a finders’ fee, 7% paid a non-returnable holding fee, 5% paid a returnable holding fee and 4% paid an ‘other fee’.

When private renters were asked whether fees would affect their decision to move, 32% said that they would not make a difference, 35% said that it would be something they would have to think about and 34% said that it would stop them moving to a new home.

Not all landlords protecting security deposits

Among those with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, 64% said that their deposit was protected, while 11% said that it was not protected. Of this group, 25% said that they did not know. Under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, the landlord is legally obliged to protect the tenant's security deposit under one of the three government-backed protection schemes.

Property condition improving

Two thirds (66%) of private renters were satisfied with the repairs and maintenance done on their home. Satisfaction was highest when the landlord was responsible for the work (76%); the equivalent figure for estate/managing agents was 55%. The most common reasons given for dissatisfaction with repairs and maintenance were the landlord not bothering to do the work (32%) or the landlord being too slow to get things done (31%).

Access the full report here.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.