The English Housing Survey 2021-22: Key Takeaways

According to the latest government data, foreigners are more likely to privately rent a home than own a property or live in social housing. 

The English Housing Survey 2021-22 reveals some interesting characteristics of private renters.

The buy-to-let market covers 4.6 million households - about one in five English households.

The typical modern tenant is three times more likely to be a foreign national as around three out of four private renters (74 per cent) are UK nationals, compared with 92 per cent of social renters and 96 per cent of homeowners.

Rent affordability

Rent affordability is an issue for many private renters, who spend more on housing than social tenants and homeowners.

Many in buy-to-let homes spend a third of their household income on rent, compared to 27 per cent for social tenants and 22 per cent for homeowners. Many private renters spend more than a third of their income on rent.

In London, the rent spent for tenants averages 41 per cent of income, rising to 44 per cent for the retired.

According to the survey, some private tenants have difficulty paying rent, including 39 per cent of renters working part-time and 32 per cent who have children.

More than half of tenants (54 per cent) pay energy bills by direct debit. However, those who have had rent arrears during the past 12 months struggle with paying for energy, with 35 per cent switching to a prepayment meter.

Moving home

Buy-to-let renters are more likely to move home than social renters or homeowners.

Private renters spend an average of 4.4 years in a home, while social renters stay for 12.7 years and owners for 17.6 years. A third of private tenants (32 per cent) have lived in buy-to-let properties for ten years or more, and 39 per cent had clocked up between three and nine years of renting.

Most private renters (77 per cent) ended their last tenancy because they wanted to move. A few said they were evicted or asked to leave (4 per cent) by their landlord. Another 10 per cent parted ways by mutual agreement with their landlord; 11 per cent had a fixed tenancy that ended; three per cent had a poor relationship with their landlord, and two per cent had a job contract that ended.

Buying a home

Most private renters aspire to buy a home, although many agree the purchase may take many years.

Younger renters are more hopeful about their prospects than older renters.

Almost two-thirds of private renters - 2.8 million households or 62 per cent- have plans to buy a home.

Around 28 per cent think this will happen during the next two years, while 37 per cent think two to five years is a more likely aspiration, and 35 per cent believe five or more years is more reasonable.

The survey also notes more younger renters intend to buy than older renters. Renters aged 16-24 are more likely to say they would eventually buy (85%) than those aged 45-64 (42%), those aged 65 to 74 (16%) or those aged 75 or older (7%).

Lack of decent homes

Around one in four privately rented properties fail the Decent Homes Standard - which adds up to 990,000 buy-to-lets and is double the number of private and social rented homes failing the test.

Tenants are more likely to experience poor living standards in the north - with the most properties failing the test in Yorkshire and Humber (37.7 per cent), followed by the North West (33.1 per cent) and the East Midlands (30.7 per cent).

The North East has the lowest number of homes failing the standard.

Around one in seven (14 per cent) or 615,000 homes are considered unsafe, with a category 1 hazard present under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Houses, where tenants are paid housing support, are more likely to contain a hazard.

Damp is a problem in 11 per cent of homes - that’s 465,000 properties, compared to 4 per cent of socially rented homes (177,000 properties) and 2 per cent of private dwellings (262,000 properties).


The private sector has 13 per cent of households with dependent children listed as overcrowded, compared to just one per cent without children. Overcrowding is one of the few metrics in the survey where private rental tenants are better off than social tenants, as 21 per cent or one in five social rented homes are defined as overcrowded.

Download the English Housing Survey 2021-22 main findings.

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Investing in a Property

Investing in a private rented property can be achieved in a variety of ways. Sometimes landlords inherit a property that they then turn over to renting. Sometimes owners of properties become unintentional landlords because they are unable or unwilling to sell a property at the value the market currently dictates.