Guidance

English housing survey: guidance and methodology

Information for anyone wishing to make use of the survey data to conduct their own analysis or understand how it's run and managed.

About the English housing survey

The English housing survey (EHS) is a continuous national survey commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It collects information about people’s housing circumstances and the housing stock in England.

In April 2008 the English housing survey was created by merging the English house condition survey with the survey of English housing. Information about these former surveys can be found on the National Archive.

The English housing survey covers all housing tenures and provides valuable information and evidence to inform the development and monitoring of DCLG’s housing policies. Results from it are also used by a wide range of other users including:

  • other government departments
  • local authorities
  • housing associations
  • landlords
  • academics
  • construction industry professionals
  • consultants
  • the general public

The interview survey is conducted with all householders in the sample (around 13,300 households per year).

The physical survey involves a physical inspection by qualified surveyors of a subsample of around 6,200 properties per year.

A periodic follow-up survey with private landlords is also undertaken to collect information on landlord experiences and attitudes, what type of landlord they are and why and how they became landlords.

In March 2016, a new contract for the survey years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 was awarded to a consortium led by NatCen Social Research. This consortium includes CADS Housing Surveys and the Building Research Establishment.

This page provides links to a range of information that supports anyone wishing to make use of the survey data to conduct their own analysis or understand in detail how it is run and managed.

How are the data used?

The government uses the aggregated results from the survey to gain a better knowledge and understanding of housing and the issues affecting householders in England. In particular, data is used to:

  • monitor the condition and energy efficiency of the housing stock
  • help target policies and resources to where they are most needed

Questionnaire and physical survey form

You can download the questionnaire used for the household interview and also the physical survey form used by our surveyors to record the physical condition of homes for each year.

Questionnaire

In order to maintain consistency over time, each year, the questionnaire retains a core set of questions on the following topics:

  • household composition, ethnicity, nationality, economic status, education and health
  • household accommodation and length of residence
  • housing history and aspirations
  • rent and mortgage payments
  • satisfaction with landlord/attitudes to neighbourhood
  • income

The questionnaire also contains a number of rotating question sets which come in and out of the survey on an annual or biennial basis. Topics covered in these modules include:

  • second homes
  • fire and fire safety
  • satisfaction with the neighbourhood
  • work undertaken to improve energy efficiency of the home
  • adaptations made to the home to improve accessibility
  • tenancy deposits

The rest of the questionnaire content is reviewed annually in consultation with survey users to ensure it meets their needs.

Physical survey form

Around half those households interviewed are randomly selected to have a physical inspection undertaken of their home. An appointment is made at a time convenient to the respondent for a named surveyor to call.

The content of this visual inspection has continued largely unchanged from the previous English house condition survey and involves an internal and external assessment of the property by a professional surveyor.

The English housing physical survey continues to provide key measures relating to decent homes, energy efficiency, quality of local environments and the housing health and safety rating system.

Property valuations are also collected so that information on local housing markets and householders’ equity in their homes can be derived. As for the previous survey, information relating to stock condition, neighbourhood quality and energy efficiency is analysed annually based on a 2-year rolling sample.

Technical background 


We have produced a series of technical advice and reports about the survey. These provide detailed information about:

  • how the survey data is collected and quality assured
  • the sampling and weighting methodology
  • how some of the important measures for analysis are derived
  • the technical terms used

Data quality

We have produced a quality report which provides a brief summary of key issues relating to quality that users of the English housing survey outputs need to be aware of.

The report is focused on dimensions of quality defined by the European Statistical System as recommended by the Code of Practice for National Statistics:

  • relevance
  • accuracy and reliability
  • timeliness and punctuality
  • accessibility and clarity
  • coherence and comparability

The report includes purpose and background of the English housing survey, a brief introduction to methodology, and a summary of work undertaken in 2014 and 2015 to improve the quality of the statistics. Note that the format of this quality report differs from the ‘Technical advice note on data quality’ published in previous years (see Technical background), which covered only accuracy quality dimension.

The technical advice notes were updated in July 2014 for the 2012 to 2013 survey year and were consolidated into one technical report at this point.

How we engage with users 


We are committed to engaging with the wider user community. Our user engagement strategy sets out how DCLG will encourage and promote engagement with the full spectrum of survey users to help ensure the survey meets key information needs in an efficient and effective way.

The English housing survey advisory group is our main forum where key external users and stakeholders provide input to the survey’s development. You can download papers and minutes of the meeting of the advisory group that took place on 5 November 2010.

We also encourage survey users to complete our short survey. This allows us to find out how our information is accessed and used, so that we can better meet survey users’ needs.

Revisions policy


In line with DCLG’s statistical revisions policy, the survey team seek to minimise any need for revisions. This is done through detailed cleaning and checking of data collected and validation of the results of further programming of this data that is undertaken to produce key measures for the survey.

Nevertheless, modifications are occasionally made to models which underpin the survey data and errors may occur due to the complexity and scope of the programming, reporting and publication of the results from it. The following steps are taken to correct and notify users of any changes as soon as practical:

  1. a revisions log is maintained that sets out:
    • date of notification and a brief description of any change
    • an indication of its impact (what results are affected and by how much for any key results)
    • the location of the affected data in any publications
    • the action taken to correct results and where this can be found (for any changes to data in reports the correction will usually be located in the errata page for a particular publication) - action will be proportionate to the scale of the revision
  2. all users on the survey mailing list will be notified by email of any significant revisions as they arise on the revisions log
  3. the UK Data Archive will be advised of any changes as they arise affecting deposited data sets and corrected files supplied if appropriate
  4. an errata page for each report affected by any revisions will be published alongside that report

English housing survey: revisions log July 2016

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Dissemination strategy


A wide range of outputs will be available from the English housing survey each year, designed to meet the needs of all our different user groups. These outputs are set out in detail in the English housing survey: dissemination strategy.

Our main outputs include:

  • headline report: in January/February each year
  • annual reports: summer/autumn each year
  • comprehensive tables
  • anonymised public data sets released via the UK Data Archive

Further information

If you would like further information about the English housing survey or would like to be added to our newsletter mailing list please contact:

email: ehs@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Tel: 0303 444 0000

English housing survey project management
Department for Communities and Local Government
4th floor SW, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF