• Of all households with at least one housing problem, 32% are private rented, 27% social rented and 41% are owner-occupied.
  • Problems of non-decent housing are largely found in owner-occupied housing, whereas problems relating to affordability and overcrowding are more commonly found in private and social rented tenures.

This chart shows the tenure composition of houses with one or more problems in England in 2016/17.

Non-decent homes are those with a hazard of immediate threat to a person’s health, not in reasonable state of repair, lacking modern facilities or not effectively insulated or heated. Overcrowding is defined as a household with more people than there are appropriate rooms based on the age, sex and the relationship status of the occupants. Housing is classed as unaffordable if the household is spending more than a third of its net income on household costs. Each of these housing problems can influence health. Non-decent homes are homes with problems, such as damp and cold, which can directly harm health. Overcrowding and poor affordability can influence mental health and act as a source of stress. Experiencing more than one of these problems risks further harm to a person’s health.

Owner-occupied housing still makes up the majority of households in England, at around 64%, although these account for only 15% of all households with multiple housing problems. However, while owner-occupied homes are more at risk of being non-decent, they are the least at risk of experiencing more than one issue.

The percentage of households experiencing housing problems is split fairly evenly across different tenures:

  • social rented (27%)
  • private rented (32%)
  • owner-occupied (41%).

However, those households experiencing multiple housing problems are mostly social and private rented households.

Many households in England experience one housing problem, but there are around one million households with more than one risk to a person’s health that could be prioritised for intervention. Overcrowded households are the most likely to experience additional problems.

  • Non-decent homes are defined as those with a Category 1 hazard – as assessed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) – that are not in a reasonable state of repair, lack reasonably modern facilities or do not provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.
  • Overcrowding is measured by comparing household members against a bedroom standard. This standard allocates rooms based on the relationship status of adults in the household, and the age and sex of the children.
  • Unaffordable housing is where more than a third (33%) of household income (net housing benefit) is spent on housing costs.

Source: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, English Housing Survey, 2020

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