Unfortunately, your browser is too old to work on this website. Please upgrade your browser
Skip to main content
  • 28% of private renters in non-decent homes rate their health as less than good, compared with 22% living in decent homes.

This chart shows the proportion of those rating their health as less than good (on a range of very good, good, fair, bad or very bad) by tenure and whether they live in a non-decent or decent home.

Non-decent homes are those with a hazard of immediate threat to a person’s health, not in a reasonable state of repair, lacking modern facilities or not effectively insulated or heated.

People living in non-decent homes are more likely to report less than good health than those living in decent homes in the private rented sector (28% and 22%, respectively) or if they own their own home (18% and 15%, respectively). In contrast, those living in decent homes in the social rented sector appear to have poorer self-rated health than those in non-decent homes, although the difference is not statistically significant. This may reflect the greater likelihood of decent homes in the social rented sector and how homes are allocated: poor health is one of the criteria for priority access to social housing.

Non-decent homes can potentially affect health in several ways. For example, Category 1 hazards – as assessed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) – such as tripping risks can cause injury, whereas poorly insulated homes can contribute to a cold environment. When looking at health by tenure, it is important to note that causality can run both ways: people with poorer health may have worse employment outcomes, leading to less income to acquire good quality housing.

The association between poor health and non-decent homes is highest in the private rented sector, which also has the highest proportion of non-decent homes. Progress in improving the standards of homes has stalled in recent years, highlighting the need for renewed policy attention.

  • Non-decent homes have been defined by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government as homes 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. 
  • Less than good self-rated health is defined as those who rate their health as fair, bad or very bad.

Source: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, English Housing Survey. Data are for 2013/14.

Related analysis

Related long read

Explore the topics

Health inequalities

Money and resources





Neighbourhoods and surroundings

Coming soon
Two faces looking at each other

Family, friends and community

Coming soon

This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more