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Home ownership and renting in England and Wales – Detailed Characteristics

This story looks at new information on households such as household size, number of bedrooms and characteristics of the household reference person (HRP), for those in owned and rented homes across England and Wales.

Key Points:

  • Of the 23.4 million homes (or households) in England and Wales on census day in March 2011, 15 million (64 per cent) were owner occupied and 8.3 million (36 per cent) were rented.

  • The majority (91 per cent) of owner occupied households lived in a whole house or bungalow, while for those renting, 56 per cent lived in houses while the remaining 44 per cent lived in other accommodation such as flats.

  • The most common number of bedrooms in a home was three. However, there were twice as many owner occupied households with three or more bedrooms (74 per cent) when compared with rented households (37 per cent).

  • Overall, two person households were the most common household size across England and Wales. However, looking only at rented accommodation, one person households were more frequent at 38 per cent.

  • Among owner occupied households containing one person, 90 per cent lived in homes with two or more bedrooms, compared with 49 per cent of one person households in rented homes.

  • Focusing on the household reference person (HRP) who is the oldest full-time worker in most households or a person chosen from the household based on their age and economic activity status, 76 per cent of those aged 65-74 owned their own homes - the highest across all age groups. The proportion of owner occupiers among those aged 25 to 34 has declined from 58 per cent in 2001 to 40 per cent in 2011.

  • Looking at the employment status of HRPs, owner occupiers were more likely to be in work than those renting, at 68 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.

Home ownership and renting across England and Wales

This is a short video on home ownership and renting across England and Wales using information from the 2011 census.

In 2011, there were 23.4 million households and of these 15 million were owner occupied; broken down into 7.2 million that were owned outright, and 7.8 million that were owned through a mortgage.  8.3 million homes were being rented; broken down into 4.2 million privately rented and 4.1 socially rented.

If we look at the accommodation type for the different types of household, the majority of owner occupiers, or 91%, live in houses; but for those renting there is a more equal share living in houses and flats, with 56% living in houses and 44% living in flats.

Looking at the number of bedrooms; twice as many owner occupier households have 3 or more

Introduction

In 2011, there were 23.4 million households in England and Wales. The majority, 15 million (64 per cent) were owner occupied, bought either outright or through a mortgage. The remaining 8.3 million (36 per cent) were rented, either privately from a landlord or letting agency, or from a social landlord such as local authorities, housing associations, housing co-operatives or charitable trusts.

Of the 15 million owner occupied households, 7.2 million homes were owned outright while the remaining 7.8 million were being bought with a mortgage. Of the 8.3 million households renting, there were similar numbers renting privately to those renting from social landlords at 4.2 million and 4.1 million respectively. Among those households in socially rented homes, 2.2 million were renting from local authorities, and 1.9 million from other social landlords1.

A review of changes in home ownership and renting over the last century has been published in a short story - A Century of Home Ownership and Renting in England and Wales. This story focuses on accommodation types, number of bedrooms, household size and some characteristics of household reference persons (HRPs) across ownership and renting categories.

Figure 1 : Percentage of households owning and renting homes in England and Wales

 

Accommodation type

Nine in ten owner occupied households live in houses

Most of the 23.4 million households in England and Wales, 79 per cent, live in a house2, with 21 per cent living in a flat. Living in a house is more usual for those who are owner occupiers with 91 per cent living in a house compared with 56 per cent of those renting.

Figure 2 : Percentage of households per accommodation type

 

Number of bedrooms

Three bedroom homes the most common across England and Wales

The most common number of bedrooms for all households in England and Wales was three, accounting for 42 per cent of the 23.4 million households. Around 28 per cent of homes had two bedrooms, 14 per cent had four bedrooms, 12 per cent had one bedroom3 and 5 per cent had five or more bedrooms.

Owner occupied homes tend to have more bedrooms than rented homes, with 74 per cent of owner occupied households having at least three bedrooms, double that of rented households, at 37 per cent. This is similar to what is observed for households owned outright or through a mortgage compared with those privately or socially renting. This suggests that people are more likely to purchase homes with three or more bedrooms, than rent such homes.

Sixty three per cent of rented households had up to two bedrooms, with similar proportions across the private and social rented categories. 36 per cent of rented households had two bedrooms, compared with 23 per cent of owner occupied households, while 26 per cent had one bedroom, compared with 4 per cent of owner occupied households.

Figure 3 : Percentage of owned or rented households by number of bedrooms

 

Household size

On average, owner occupiers have larger households than renters

Across England and Wales the average household size4 was 2.4 people. This figure was the same for owner occupied, but lower for rented households at 2.3 people.

Looking in more detail, the average household size was lowest among those households owned outright, at 2.0 people per household. This may in part be explained by the residents being older, with some members of the family having moved out, or a pensioner living alone.

Across England and Wales almost two thirds of households were one or two person households, 34 per cent were two person households and 30 per cent were one person households. A further 16 per cent were households of three people and 13 per cent of four people.

There were more two person households among owner occupied households, accounting for 37 per cent, compared with 29 per cent for rented households. Conversely, there were more one person households among those renting, at 38 per cent, compared with 26 per cent among owner occupied households.

Figure 4 : Percentage of households per number of people in owned and rented homes

Household sizes differed between the two categories of owner occupation. 81 per cent of homes owned outright were occupied by up to two people, (46 per cent with two people and 35 per cent as one-person households). Only 18 per cent of households bought with a mortgage were one-person households, with most having between two and four people, (29 per cent two-person households, 22 per cent four-person households and 21 per cent three-person households). This could be explained by the fact that outright owner occupied households are likely to be mostly older households whose children have left home, while those owning with a mortgage are more likely to be younger households with live-in children.

In the social renting sector, 43 per cent are one-person households, while a quarter are two people households. A third (33 per cent) of privately rented households contains just one person, with 32 per cent as two people households.

Household size per number of bedrooms

Owner occupied households tend to have a larger number of bedrooms than rented households and when looking at the number of bedrooms in combination with the household size, owner occupied households are more likely to have more bedrooms than people, compared with rented households.

The analysis of household size combined with number of bedrooms does not imply over or undercrowding, as these concepts are derived using more detailed household information than is currently available. Analysis within this area is anticipated when appropriate data becomes available. 

Figure 5 : Percentage of households per number of bedrooms for owner occupiers and renters

 

One person households

Across England and Wales, 28 per cent of one person households lived in a home with one bedroom but this percentage varied for those renting and as owner occupiers. Within the rental sector, 51 per cent of one person households lived in one bedroom homes, compared with just 10 per cent of owner occupier households. For owner occupied households, 80 per cent of one person households had two or three bedrooms compared with 47 per cent for those renting.

Within the rental sector, for one person households socially renting, 44 per cent had two bedrooms or more compared with 57 per cent of those privately renting having two bedrooms or more. Within those socially renting, 48 per cent of those renting from local authorities had two or more bedrooms and 39 per cent of those renting from other social landlords were living in homes with at least two bedrooms.

Two person households

Almost half (49 per cent) of two person households who were renting, either privately or with a social landlord live in two bedroom homes, compared with a quarter (25 per cent) of owner occupied households of the same size. Half (50 per cent) of two person owner occupied households had three bedrooms, compared with 27 per cent of rented households.

Figure 6: Percentage of households by size and number of bedrooms.

 

Three, four and five person households

Around 51 per cent of all three-person households lived in homes with three bedrooms. Within owner occupied households containing three people, 54 per cent had three bedrooms, compared with 46 per cent of renting households of the same size. Rented households were more likely to have more people than bedrooms, with 41 per cent of three-person households living in two bedrooms compared with 15 per cent of owner occupied households of the same size.

For four and five-person households across England and Wales, three bedroom homes were the most common at 52 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.

Households with six or more people

Across all households with six or more people, 7 per cent lived in homes with one or two bedrooms (6 per cent in two bedroom homes and one per cent living in one bedroom houses).  In the rental sector, 11 per cent of households had one or two bedrooms, compared with 4 per cent of owner occupier households with six or more people.

Around four in ten (39 per cent) households with six or more people lived in homes with three bedrooms. Among owner-occupiers of this household size, 32 per cent lived in three bedroom homes, while 47 per cent of rented households lived in homes with three bedrooms.

Among households privately rented, 29 per cent of those with six or more people had five or more bedrooms, compared with 7 per cent of similar households in socially rented homes. Of those renting from local authorities, around 12 per cent lived in one or two bedrooms, compared with 10 per cent of those renting from other social landlords.

Household Reference Persons (HRP)

Looking at the household reference person (HRP), within the 23.4 million households across England and Wales, around 60 per cent were male and 40 per cent were female. The concept of a ‘Household Reference Person’ (HRP) was introduced for the 2001 Census, replacing the traditional concept of a "Head of Household", to allow the production of statistics for a whole household, based on the characteristics of one person.  The HRP is chosen based on their age and economic activity, and is the oldest full-time worker in most households.  Where nobody works full-time, other economic activity statuses are used, and a full priority order is included in the Glossary.

Figure 7: Age distribution of household reference persons (HRPs)

The most common age group for the HRP was 35 to 49, accounting for around 30 per cent, followed by those aged 50 to 64, which accounted for 26 per cent. The least common age group was those aged 16 to 24 which accounted for 4 per cent. There were more male HRPs than female across all the age groups with the exception of those in the groups 16 to 24 and 75 and over, where 54 per cent were female.

Looking at differences between the HRPs who are owner occupiers and renters, for those aged 16 to 24 the majority, (87 per cent) of HRPs rent, with just 13 per cent being owner occupiers. The percentage of owner occupiers increases with age, peaking at 76 per cent for those aged 65 to 74 and dropping marginally to 73 per cent for those aged 75 and over.

For those aged 25 to 345, the percentage of owner occupiers declined from 58 per cent in 2001 to 40 per cent in 2011. This suggests a decline in first time home buyers, who would usually be within this age group.

Within the owner occupied category, for HRPs who owned their homes outright, 88 per cent were aged 50 and over, reflecting that it takes time to pay off a mortgage. For those HRPs buying with a mortgage, fewer than one per cent were in the age group 16 to 24, 15 per cent were in the age group 25 to 34 and 48 per cent were among those aged 35 to 49, which was the largest age group.

Figure 8: Age distribution of household reference persons (HRPs) across ownership and renting

Looking at the employment status of the HRPs, owner occupiers were more likely to be in work than those renting, with 68 per cent of owner-occupiers in employment, compared with 57 per cent of those renting. Just one per cent of HRPs who were owner occupiers were unemployed compared with 7 per cent of those renting. The remaining 31 per cent of HRPs who were owner occupied were inactive, that is, not looking or available for work, with most of these (92 per cent) being retirees who own their homes outright. For the 36 per cent of HRPs who were renting and inactive, around half were retired with the second and third most common reasons being ‘long term sick or disabled’ and ‘looking after home or family’.

Figure 9: Distribution of household reference persons (HRPs) across economic activity status

For those HRPs who were owner occupiers and buying through a mortgage, around 92 per cent were in employment, the highest percentage in work across the categories of owned outright, buying with a mortgage, socially or privately renting. The lowest percentage in work was for those socially renting, where 41 per cent of HRPs were in employment.

Within the rental sector, among those who socially and privately renting, there was a similar proportion of HRPs who were unemployed, with 8 per cent of those socially renting being unemployed, compared with 6 per cent of those privately renting.

Background Notes:

  1. The census asked respondents to identify who their landlord is and the results reflect the responses they gave. In the past decade half of the local authorities in Wales have transferred the management of all their local authority housing stock to other social landlords. Individuals responding to the Census will report their understanding of their landlord and this may not reflect the actual management arrangements in all cases.

  2. The accommodation category ‘house’ includes a whole house or bungalow, while a ‘flat’ includes flats, maisonettes, caravans and other temporary mobile structures.

  3. Households with one bedroom include those which indicated having no bedrooms in their census responses.

  4. The average household size was derived by dividing the number of people living in households in England and Wales (usual residents), by the number of households.

  5. Variations in age bands used in grouping HRPs between the 2001 and 2011 censuses have made the data incomparable, except for age groups 25 to 34, which are consistent in both years.

  6. The broad ownership category includes those who own their homes outright, those who have bought with a mortgage, and those with shared ownership – part owned and part rented.

  7. The broad renting category covers households in homes rented from private landlords or letting agents, local authorities, housing associations or registered social landlords, and other private renters – including those living rent free.

  8. Private rented, Other: Accommodation that is ‘private rented, other’ includes accommodation that is rented from an employer of a household member, relative or friend of a household member, or other non-social rented accommodation – including those living rent free.

Glossary

Household

A household is defined as one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room or sitting room or dining area

A household must contain at least one person whose place of usual residence is at the address. A group of short-term residents living together is not classified as a household, and neither is a group of people at an address where only visitors are staying.

Tenure

Tenure provides information about whether a household rents or owns the accommodation that it occupies and, if rented, combines this with information about the type of landlord who owns or manages the accommodation.

Tenure, social rented, other

Accommodation that is ‘other social rented’ includes accommodation that is rented from a registered social landlord, housing association, housing co-operative or charitable trust.

Usual resident

The main population base for outputs from the 2011 Census is the usual resident population as at census day 27 March 2011. Although the population base for enumeration included non-UK short-term residents, this population is analysed separately and is not included in the main outputs from the 2011 Census. All outputs, unless specified, are produced using only usual residents of the UK.

For 2011 Census purposes, a usual resident of the UK is anyone who, on census day, was in the UK and had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or had a permanent UK address and was outside the UK and intended to be outside the UK for less than 12 months.

Household reference person (HRP)

The concept of a household reference person (HRP) was introduced in the 2001 Census (in common with other government surveys in 2001/2) to replace the traditional concept of the 'head of the household'. HRPs provide an individual person within a household to act as a reference point for producing further derived statistics and for characterising a whole household according to characteristics of the chosen reference person.

For a person living alone, it follows that this person is the HRP.

If a household contains only one family (with or without ungrouped individuals) then the HRP is the same as the family reference person (FRP).

For families in which there is generational divide between family members that cannot be determined (Other related family), there is no FRP. Members of these families are treated the same as ungrouped individuals.

If there is more than one family in a household the HRP is chosen from among the FRPs using the same criteria used to choose the FRP. This means the HRP will be selected from the FRPs on the basis of their economic activity, in the priority order:

Economically active, employed, full-time, non-student

Economically active, employed, full-time, student

Economically active, employed, part-time, non-student

Economically active, employed, part-time, student

Economically active, unemployed, non-student

Economically active, unemployed, student

Economically inactive, retired

Economically inactive, other

If some or all FRPs have the same economic activity, the HRP is the eldest of the FRPs. If some or all are the same age, the HRP is the first of the FRPs from the order in which they were listed on the questionnaire.

If a household is made up entirely of any combination of ungrouped individuals and other related families, the HRP is chosen from among all people in the household, using the same criteria used to choose between FRPs.

Students at their non term-time address and short-term migrants cannot be the HRP.

2011 Census Glossary. (381.7 Kb Pdf)

 

Categories: Population, Population Estimates, Population Estimates by Age and Sex, People and Places, Households, Number of Households
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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