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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

A plague on our houses?


This week, during homes at the heart of settled future, Ben Marshall, research director at Ipsos MORI, has put together a detailed blog, explaining what recent research he’s conducted can tell us.

We have never spent so much time at home. Since March, our dwellings have provided us with safety and sanctuary like never before. They have become offices, classrooms, places to work-out, bases from which to socialise virtually and on the doorstep. Our housing has been tested and has been found wanting in many ways.

An Ipsos MORI survey for St. Modwen finds people across the UK more satisfied with their current home than they are with their finances, health, and social life. But this varies considerably by tenure; while just one in ten outright owners are dissatisfied with their home, this is twice as high among private renters.

Similarly, while 82% of owner-occupiers rate their accommodation as having been suitable during lockdown, the same applies to 73% of renters who were much less likely to have had access to a private garden and a private space to work. And while lockdown brought a stronger sense of community and solidarity for many Britons, just a third of renters say they spent more time speaking with neighbours and locals than previously, compared to half of owner-occupiers.

Of course, this is not just about tenure. Back in mid-April – a time of extraordinarily high levels of compliance – 46% of parents said that their children had not left home at all on five or more of the previous seven days. While parents of all tenures were a little more likely than average to have had access to a private garden, a quarter didn’t.

Nationally, 8% moved out of their main residence during lockdown but 30% of Gen Z (aged 16-24) did this. While the primary reason was being closer to loved ones, the inadequacies of accommodation was also a reason.

These findings should hardly surprise us. Working with Shelter in 2016, we found 43% of people living in homes failing to meet the Living Home Standard with affordability the most common cause.

While 6% of both social and private renters told us they fell behind on rent during lockdown, 23% and 36% respectively experienced drops in income. Overall, four in ten renters are concerned about paying the rent in the next 12 months.

The Resolution Foundation and Inside Housing have linked Covid hotspots to “housing factors”. While it would be churlish to criticise architects, developers and policy-makers for homes being unable to meet the demands of lockdown, Covid has brought the need for better housing into sharp focus.

The public support boosting housing supply, especially social housing, but also take a pretty dim view of new builds, their aesthetics and affordability. Existing housing matters too. It needs to cater for a changing context but also, potentially, a changing consumer.

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