The proportion of income spent by private tenants on rents in England has continued to fall, according to an official report on the state of the country’s housing.
Figures in the latest English Housing Survey, based on research in 2017-18, show that tenants paid an average of 32.9% of their income in rent, down from 34.3% in the previous year and from 36.4% in 2014/15.
The report, which is the most comprehensive snapshot of England’s housing stock and how people are living in it, also found that the average length of time a private sector tenant had lived in their existing home was up from 3.9 years in 2016/17 to 4.1 years in 2017/18.
The government’s new Private Landlord Survey for 2018, also published yesterday, shows that 70% of landlords kept their rents the same when they most recently renewed a tenancy showing that landlords prioritise keeping good tenants for a long term.
However, overcrowding in the private rented sector is on the up, with more than 250,000 said to be living in overcrowded private rented housing, which is the second highest level recorded since 1996, the English Housing Survey revealed.
The official figures show that overcrowding is a growing problem in general, owed to the shortage of properties.
Social housing has increased to the highest level since government records began 24 years ago with more than 300,000 households in England squeezed into too few rooms, the data shows.
Overcrowding rates are now eight times higher in social housing and six times higher in private rented accommodation than among owner-occupiers.
The research also reveals that 14% of private rented homes have “category one” hazards, compared with 6% rented from councils or housing associations. Overall, however, the standards of homes are improving. In 2008, 31% of dwellings in the PRS failed to meet the government’s decent homes standard.
John Stewart, policy manager for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), commented: “What emerges from the wealth of data out today is a picture of continuing improvement in affordability, security and standards for private tenants.
“The figures also debunk the myth that landlords are always increasing rents unreasonably and looking for every opportunity to evict a tenant.
“We recognise that whilst this data confirms that the vast majority of landlords enjoy good relationships with their tenants and want them to stay on long term, there are still too many unscrupulous landlords who bring the sector into disrepute and they should be driven out of the market.”