Households living in overcrowded private rentals double in 10 years

Posted 24 Jan 2020

Headline figures for 2018/19 from the government’s English Housing Survey, released on Thursday 23 January, show:  

  • More than 283,000 households who rent privately are living in overcrowded conditions – this has doubled (an increase of 95%, or 138,000 households) in the last ten years and increased by 9% (22,000 households) in the last year alone. 

  • More than 4.5 million households rent their home from a private landlord, which works out as just over 11 million people – a rise of 48% (1.49 million households) over the last ten years. 

  • One in four families with children in England (24%) now rent privately – 84% more families than ten years ago. 

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “As the supply of new social homes grinds to a halt, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of people living in overcrowded private rentals. More and more families are crammed like sardines into homes that are too small for them because they can’t afford to rent anywhere bigger.  

  • Private renters spend an average of 40% of their income on rent – more than any other tenure (i.e. homeowners or social tenants). 

“The odds are stacked against struggling families. What this country desperately needs is an alternative to private renting, which is why Shelter is urging the government to build a new generation of genuinely affordable social homes. These homes would finally give people the chance of a decent place to live where they can plan for their future.” 

Notes to editors:

  • Data is available from the English Housing Survey 2018 to 2019 headline report 

  • The number of households living in the private rented sector is available at: MHCLG, English Housing Survey 2018 to 2019: headline report, Annex Table 1.1  

  • We calculated the number of people living in the private rented sector by multiplying the number of households by the average household size (2.49). Average household size of households living in the private rented sector is available at: MHCLG, English Housing Survey 2018 to 2019: headline report, Annex Table 1.3 

  • We compared 2018/19 data with data from 2008/09 to show a ten-year trend.

  • The number of households living in overcrowded private rented accommodation has increased by 95% in the last ten years (144,486 households in 2008/09 to 283,064 in 2018/19).  

  • The percentage of families with children living in the private rented sector is available at: MHCLG, English Housing Survey 2018 to 2019: headline report, Annex Table 1.5 

  • The number of families with children living in the private rented sector has increased from 912,774 families in 2008/09 to 1,678,176 families in 2018/19. 

  • The percentage of income that private renters spend on rent is the percentage of income that the household reference person and partner spend on their income, including housing benefit. This is available at: MHCLG, English Housing Survey 2018 to 2019: headline report, Annex Table 1.13 

  • The number of overcrowded households in the private rented sector is available at: MHCLG, English Housing Survey 2018 to 2019: headline report, Annex Table 1.21