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2011 Census housing snapshot revealed

Released: 28 June 2013 Download PDF

A more detailed look at home ownership and renting in England and Wales from the 2011 Census is published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The key findings include: The number of people owning their own homes in England and Wales is almost double the number of people renting. More homes are bought with a mortgage than are owned outright. The majority of people live in a house with three bedrooms. Two thirds of homes are occupied by one or two people.

Key facts:

  • There were 23.4 million homes in England and Wales on census day in March 2011.

  • Of these, 15 million (64 per cent) were owner occupied, that is either owned outright (7.2 million) or being bought with a mortgage (7.8 million) by the occupier.

  • 8.3 million (36 per cent) were renting, either privately from a landlord (4.2 million) or social housing (4.1 million).

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

  • 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 to 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.

  • Almost half (49 per cent) of two person households in rented accommodation lived in homes with two bedrooms, compared to a quarter of owner occupied two person households.

  • Focusing on the household reference person (HRP)*, 76 per cent of those aged 65-74 owned their own homes - the highest across all age groups. The highest proportion of renting HRPs was among the age group 16-24, with 87 per cent in rented homes. (*an HRP is defined as the oldest full-time worker in most households or a person chosen from the household based on their age and economic activity).

  • 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.

  • Just 1 per cent of HRPs who were owner occupiers were unemployed, compared with 7 per cent of those renting.

  • 31 per cent of owner occupier HRPs were economically inactive, that is, not looking or available for work, with most of these being retirees who own their own homes outright.

  • Of the 36 per cent of HRPs who were renting and economically inactive around a half were retired; the second most common reason for economic inactivity was being long term sick or disabled; and the third was looking after home or family.

  • For those HRPs who were buying the home they occupied through a mortgage, around 92 per cent of them were in employment, while for those socially renting just 41 per cent of HRPs were in employment.

  • One per cent of HRPs who owned homes through a mortgage were within the 16-24 age group, while over three quarters, (78 per cent) were between 35 and 64 years.

Today’s release includes new tables on housing, built up areas, and headcounts & household estimates for postcodes.  The detailed characteristic tables for housing are available down to local authority level and are accompanied by a commentary. The built up areas tables are also accompanied by a commentary.  The built up areas, postcode estimates and both commentaries are available on the ONS website, while the Detailed Characteristics tables are accessible from the NOMIS website.

Notes to Editors

  1. The census provides the most accurate estimate possible for the population of England and Wales and has been carried out every 10 years since 1801, apart from 1941, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and its predecessors. The information provided to ONS is used solely for the census, is anonymised and protected for 100 years. Census day was on 27 March 2011. All census statistics refer to that day.

  2. 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 Census Glossary:

  3. Variations in the 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.

  4. 2011 and 2001 Census data are available on the Neighbourhood Statistics website:, relevant table numbers are provided in the bulletin published 30 January 2013.

  5. Government uses the census statistics to allocate funding for services such as education, transport and health. Policy makers in central and local government use the census to identify the needs of different communities and they are also used by commercial enterprises. It also provides the benchmark for future population estimates and for sample surveys.

  6. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

  7. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

  8. The main population base for outputs from the 2011 Census is the usual resident population as at census day, 27 March 2011. 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.

For further information:

Media Line:  01329 447 654



Background notes

  1. © Crown copyright 2013.
    You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence.
  2. To view this licence go to:  or write to the Information Policy Team:

    The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU

  3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.