Push to private renting continues as home ownership numbers continue to fall

The latest figures from the 2015-16 English Housing Survey published today confirm continued growth in private renting and falling levels of mortgaged home ownership.

The number of private rented households rose to 4,528,000 million, up by 250,000, which suggests the fall (99,000) seen in the previous year was a temporary blip.

Mortgaged home ownership continued its decline. Numbers fell 252,000 to 6,598,000, their lowest level since 1984, and at 29 per cent of all households, the lowest share of tenure since  English Housing Survey records began in 1980.

The numbers also highlight a widening of the generation gap in housing. Older mortgage-free household numbers rose by 258,000 in a year to 7,732,000.  At the same time, younger aspiring home-owners continue to struggle to access the market due to rising house prices and increasingly tough lending criteria.

Other key trends highlighted by the new survey include:

  • Overall the number of 25-34 year old households in the private rented sector has risen by over 800,000 or 110 per cent in the past 10 years, and 56,000 in a year, to a total of 1,537,000
  • In 2015-16, the 35-44 age group saw an even bigger increase in numbers of households in private renting, up 78,000, albeit total numbers remain lower at 1,038,000, having risen 505,000 in the past 10 years.
  • Levels of home-ownership among the 35-44 age group have fallen by more than a million in 10 years (-1,136,000 to 2,211,000).
  • Among the over 65s, the number of home-owners without a mortgage has gone up 684,000 in five years and over 1 million in 10 years. The number of debt free over 65-year-old households now stands at 4,704,000. Savills estimates that this age group now holds a total of over £1.5 trillion of housing wealth.

All this said, the data is showing an increase in mortgaged home ownership among 25-34 year olds in the past year of +49,000 which may be a reflection of Help to Buy helping people onto the ladder, and to a lesser extent, the impact of the bank of mum and dad.

These overall trends are reflected in some of the numbers we did when we valued the UKs housing stock (see below).


The continued rise in under occupation among home-owners reflects growth in mortgage-free home ownership and reluctance to downsize. This continues to put pressure on our housing stock and means that housing delivery isn’t just a numbers game, it is also about providing the right type of housing in the right locations, particularly for downsizers.

These figures support calls for the inclusion in next week’s Budget of measures to encourage downsizing in order to free up under-occupied homes, and an exemption from the 3 per cent additional homes stamp duty levy for the build to rent sector to boost the delivery of much needed rental housing.

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