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One in five homes fail to meet Decent Home Standards

Written by: John Fitzsimons
One in four privately rented homes isn't up to scratch, compared to just 13% of social housing
One in five homes fail to meet Decent Home Standards

Almost one in five properties within England do not meet the Decent Homes Standard, the English Housing Survey has revealed.

This means around 4.5 million homes in total which are non-decent, with 25 per cent of private rented homes failing to meet the standard, the highest sector proportion.

In contrast, 13 per cent of social sector homes were classed as non-decent, while 19 per cent of owner-occupied homes failed to meet the standard.

For a dwelling to be classed as decent, it needs to:

  • meet the statutory minimum standard for housing under the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS). Homes with a Category 1 hazard under the HHSRS are considered non-decent;
  • be in a reasonable state of repair;
  • have reasonably modern facilities and services;
  • provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

Problem with older homes

The survey found that in general, the older the dwelling, the more likely it was to be non-decent. For example, while more than a third of properties built before 1919 were non-decent, this plummets to just two per cent of those built after 1990.

However, the report noted that an exception to this trend exists for homes built between 1981 and 1990, while these properties are likely to have a “relatively lower proportion of wall insulation evident” when compared with homes built between 1945 and 1980.

Converted flats were found to be the most likely type of dwelling to be non-decent, with a third failing to hit the standard. Among homes, terraced homes (21 per cent) were most likely to be non-decent.

According to the survey, the average cost of improving these homes so that they meet the standard is £7,211. This jumps to £7,484 for homes in the private sector, with age again playing a key role here ‒ the older the property, generally the more expensive the work needed so that it can meet the standard.

High rise flats

The English Housing Survey took a deeper look at high rise flats, noting that they were no more likely to be non-decent than other types of dwelling.

Additionally, they tended to have lower repair costs in comparison to flats in blocks of three or fewer storeys.

Around 1.1 million homes ‒ approximately five per cent of the total housing stock ‒ were found to have a serious fire hazard, such as no smoke alarm, an old or faulty electrical system or missing fire doors.

These were present in 10 per cent of homes built before 1919 but just one per cent of those built since 1990.

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