Housing statistics and English Housing Survey glossary

A to Z

The glossary is a single reference point for terms and definitions used in MHCLG housing statistical publications and English Housing Survey reports, arranged alphabetically.

About the A to Z

This glossary applies to all of MHCLG housing statistical publications, including English Housing Survey reports. When the same term is defined differently in different publications this is noted.

It includes terms used in statistical publications on:

  • housing stock, including dwelling stock statistics and local authority housing statistics
  • housing supply, including new built dwellings statistics and affordable housing statistics
  • planning statistics
  • green belt statistics
  • energy performance of buildings certificates statistics
  • English Housing Survey (EHS) reports

We have published a guide to MHCLG housing statistics and information on the English Housing Survey.

You can search the glossary by:

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Acceptance as homeless

Local authorities have a responsibility for securing accommodation for households who are in priority need, eligible (certain categories of persons from abroad are ineligible) and are homeless through no fault of their own. A household satisfying these criteria is said to be ‘accepted as homeless’, or more formally as ‘accepted as owed a main homelessness duty’.

Families with children and households that include someone who is vulnerable, for example because of pregnancy, old age, or physical or mental disability, have a priority need for accommodation.

Accessibility features see visitability


A classification of residential neighbourhoods developed using a series of modelling algorithms. ACORN groups households, postcodes and neighbourhoods into 6 categories, 18 groups and 62 types, according to age, household composition, facilities, household size, income, marital status, mode of travel to work, occupation, ownership of car, ownership of home, etc. The English Housing Survey Team matches ACORN data onto its datasets to enable it to classify households into the following categories during analysis:

  • Affluent achievers: some of the most financially successful people in the UK. They live in wealthy, high status rural, semi-rural and suburban areas of the country. Middle aged or older people, the ‘baby-boomer’ generation, predominate with many empty nesters and wealthy retired people.

  • Rising prosperity: generally younger, well educated, and mostly prosperous people living in our major towns and cities. Most are singles or couples, some yet to start a family, others with younger children. Often these are highly educated younger professionals moving up the career ladder. Most live in converted or modern flats, with a significant proportion of these being recently built executive city flats. Some will live in terraced town houses. While some are buying their home, occasionally through some form of shared equity scheme, others will be renting. While many have good incomes not all might yet have had time to convert these into substantial savings or investments.

  • Comfortable communities: all life stages are represented in this category. Many areas have mostly stable families and empty nesters, especially in suburban or semi-rural locations. Generally people own their own home. Most houses are semi-detached or detached, overall of average value for the region. Incomes overall are average, some will earn more, the younger people a bit less than average. Employment is in a mix of professional and managerial, clerical and skilled occupations. Educational qualifications tend to be in line with the national average.

  • Financially stretched: a mix of traditional areas of Britain. Housing is often terraced or semi-detached, a mix of lower value owner occupied housing and homes rented from the council or housing associations, including social housing developments specifically for the elderly. This category also includes student term-time areas. Unemployment is above average as are the proportions of people claiming other benefits.

  • Urban adversity: this category contains the most deprived areas of large and small towns and cities across the UK. Household incomes are low, nearly always below the national average. The numbers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and other benefits is well above the national average. Levels of qualifications are low and those in work are likely to be employed in semi-skilled or unskilled occupations. The housing is a mix of low rise estates, with terraced and semi-detached houses, and purpose built flats, including high rise blocks. Properties tend to be small and there may be overcrowding. Over half of the housing is rented from the local council or a housing association.

  • Not private households: this category covers postcodes where the bulk of the residents are not living in private households. Examples include army bases, hotels or other holiday accommodation, prisons, care homes or hospitals and business or industrial parks with no residents.

More details are available in the ACORN user guide.


Additions to affordable housing supply that take place without the building of a new property which has expressly commissioned as an affordable unit, either through section 106 or other funding sources. This can include the purchase of private sector stock, including new build private completions for market sales, which is then provided as affordable housing. It may also include empty properties brought back into use. These will normally be long term empty properties where rehabilitation works are required and which would not otherwise come back into use without intervention.

Acquisitions of existing social stock are not counted unless there are substantive works carried out which leads to an addition in affordable supply. Similarly, conversion of existing affordable properties where there is substantive rehabilitation works carried out which result in a gain in self-contained affordable units can be counted but repairs, refurbishment or extension of existing properties are not counted as these will not lead to an addition in affordable supply.


These are decisions on applications for consent to display advertisements under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 (as amended).

Affordable home ownership

Affordable housing provided for sale. It includes relevant equity loans, other low cost homes for sale (at a price equivalent to at least 20% below local market value) and rent to buy (which includes a period of intermediate rent). Where public grant funding is provided, there should be provisions for the homes to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or for any receipts to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision, or refunded to government or the relevant authority specified in the funding agreement.

Affordable housing

Housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market (including housing that provides a subsidised route to home ownership and/or is for essential local workers); and which complies with one or more of the following definitions:

(a) Affordable housing for rent: meets all of the following conditions: (a) the rent is set in accordance with the government’s rent policy for Social Rent or Affordable Rent, or is at least 20% below local market rents (including service charges where applicable); (b) the landlord is a registered provider, except where it is included as part of a Build to Rent scheme (in which case the landlord need not be a registered provider); and (c) it includes provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision. For Build to Rent schemes affordable housing for rent is expected to be the normal form of affordable housing provision (and, in this context, is known as Affordable Private Rent).

(b) Starter homes: is as specified in sections 2 and 3 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and any secondary legislation made under these sections. The definition of a starter home should reflect the meaning set out in statute and any such secondary legislation at the time of plan-preparation or decision-making. Where secondary legislation has the effect of limiting a household’s eligibility to purchase a starter home to those with a particular maximum level of household income, those restrictions should be used.

(c) Discounted market sales housing: is that sold at a discount of at least 20% below local market value. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Provisions should be in place to ensure housing remains at a discount for future eligible households.

(d) Other affordable routes to home ownership: is housing provided for sale that provides a route to ownership for those who could not achieve home ownership through the market. It includes shared ownership, relevant equity loans, other low cost homes for sale (at a price equivalent to at least 20% below local market value) and rent to buy (which includes a period of intermediate rent). Where public grant funding is provided, there should be provisions for the homes to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or for any receipts to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision or refunded to government or the relevant authority specified in the funding agreement.

Affordable Housing Guarantees

Combine a government-provided guarantee to support debt raised by borrowers and grant funding to help housing providers expand the provision of affordable housing.

Affordable rent

A form of social housing, introduced in 2011 as the main type of affordable housing supply. It may only be delivered with grant through the Affordable Homes Programme 2011-15 and other associated and subsequent programmes or without grant by local authority and other providers, where a contract or confirmation of the ability to charge an affordable rent is in place. Affordable rented homes are let by local authorities or private registered providers of social housing to households who are eligible for social rented housing. Affordable rent is subject to rent controls that require a rent of up to 80% of the local market rent (including service charges, where applicable).

Applications received

The following applications are included:

  1. (a) Valid applications for planning permission for development under Articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) namely:

    1. (i) Applications for outline planning permission
    2. (ii) Applications for approval of reserved matters
    3. (iii) Applications for full planning permission

This includes any application for time limited permission and any application that is accompanied by an environmental statement.

  1. (b) Applications under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to vary or remove conditions (including applications for minor material amendments).

  2. (c) Developments which would normally have been permitted under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 but have come before the local planning authority for determination because they require an Environmental Impact Assessment.

  3. (d) Valid applications for listed building consent under section 8 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

  4. (e) Valid applications for planning permission for relevant demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area under section 70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

  5. (f) Valid applications for consent to display advertisements under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended).

  6. (g) Valid applications under regulations 3 and 4 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992 (as amended).

Area type in the English Housing Survey household sample

All households are classified in the EHS household sample according to the 2011 Rural-Urban Classification for Small Area Geographies:

  • urban: includes a built up area with a population of more than 10,000 people

  • rural: includes town and fringe, village, hamlets and isolated dwellings

Area type in the English Housing Survey dwelling sample

At the physical inspection, the surveyor makes an assessment of the area surrounding the dwelling and classifies it according to the following categories:

  • city or other urban centre which includes:
    • city centre: the area around the core of a large city
    • other urban centre: the area around towns and small cities, and also older urban
  • suburban residential: the outer area of a town or city; characterised by large planned housing estates

  • rural which includes:
    • rural residential: a suburban area of a village, often meeting the housing needs of people who work in nearby towns and cities
    • village centre: the traditional village or the old heart of a village which has been suburbanised
    • rural: an area which is predominantly rural e.g. mainly agricultural land with isolated dwellings or small hamlets


If the Household Reference Person (HRP) or partner are not up to date with rent or mortgage payments they are considered to be in arrears. (See Household Reference Person for the definition of an HRP.)

Assured private tenancy

This type of tenancy is where the tenant has the right to remain in the property unless the landlord can prove they have grounds for possession. The landlord does not have an automatic right to repossess the property when the tenancy comes to an end.

Assured shorthold private tenancy

This type of tenancy is where the landlord can regain possession of the property 6 months after the beginning of the tenancy, as long as they provide the tenant with 2 months’ notice.


Basic repair costs

On the English Housing Survey, basic repairs include urgent work required in the short term to tackle problems presenting a risk to health, safety, security or further significant deterioration plus any additional work that will become necessary within the next 5 years. See Chapter 5, Annex 5 of the EHS technical report for more information about how these are calculated and assumptions made.

Bedroom standard

Is used by government as an indicator of occupation density. A standard number of bedrooms is calculated for each household in accordance with its age/sex/marital status composition and the relationship of the members to one another. A separate bedroom is allowed for each married or cohabiting couple, any other person aged 21 or over, each pair of adolescents aged 10-20 of the same sex, and each pair of children under 10. Any unpaired person aged 10-20 is notionally paired, if possible, with a child under 10 of the same sex, or, if that is not possible, he or she is counted as requiring a separate bedroom, as is any unpaired child under 10.

This notional standard number of bedrooms is then compared with the actual number of bedrooms (including bed-sitters) available for the sole use of the household, and differences are tabulated. Bedrooms converted to other uses are not counted as available unless they have been denoted as bedrooms by the respondents; bedrooms not actually in use are counted unless uninhabitable.

Households are said to be overcrowded if they have fewer bedrooms available than the notional number needed. Households are said to be under-occupying if they have 2 or more bedrooms more than the notional needed.

Boiler type

A number of boiler types are available in England:

  • standard: provides hot water or warm air for space heating with the former also providing hot water via a separate storage cylinder.

  • back: located behind a room heater and feeds hot water to a separate storage cylinder. They are generally less efficient than other boiler types.

  • combination: provides hot water or warm air for space heating and can provide hot water on demand negating the need for a storage cylinder, therefore requiring less space.

  • condensing: standard and combination boilers can also be condensing. A condensing boiler uses a larger, or dual, heat exchanger to obtain more heat from burning fuel than an ordinary boiler and is generally the most efficient boiler type.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions

The total carbon dioxide emissions from space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting, less the emissions saved by energy generation as derived from the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculations and assumptions. These are measured in tonnes per year and are not adjusted for floor area, but represent emissions from the whole dwelling. The highest and lowest emitting performers have also been grouped with cut-off points set at 3 tonnes per year for the low emitters and 10 tonnes per year for the highest. CO2 emissions for each dwelling are based on a standard occupancy and a standard heating regime.

Category 1 hazard

The most serious type of hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Where such a hazard exists the dwelling fails to reach the statutory minimum standard for housing in England.

Change of use

Many developments involve some change of land use, but a decision is classified as ‘change of use’ only if:

  1. (i) the application does not concern a major development; and
  2. (ii)(a) no building or engineering work is involved; or
  3. (ii)(b) the building or engineering work would be permitted development were it not for the fact that the development involved a change of use.

Change of use (housing supply; net additional dwellings)

This is the changing of a non-residential dwelling to residential use, or changing a residential building to non-residential use. This would include, for example, a shop converted into a flat, a barn conversion or a house converted to an office. Changes to permitted development rights in May 2013, allowed offices (and subsequently other buildings) to change to residential use, subject to prior approval being granted by a local authority. (Certain areas are exempt.)

Communal accommodation

These are establishments providing managed residential accommodation. They are not counted in overall housing supply but are covered separately in the ‘Communal accommodation’ section of the net addition dwellings release. These cover ‘traditional’ university and college student halls, hospital staff accommodation, hostels/homes, hotels/holiday complexes and defence establishments (not married quarters). However, purpose-built (separate) homes (e.g. self-contained flats clustered into units with 4 to 6 bedrooms for students) are included in the main dwelling figures, with each self-contained unit counted as one dwelling. The number of units counted is based on the Valuation Office Agency guidance on communal dwellings.

Comprehensive repair costs

On the English Housing Survey, comprehensive repairs include urgent work required in the short term to tackle problems presenting a risk to health, safety, security or further significant deterioration plus any additional work, including replacement of elements that will become necessary within the next 10 years. See Chapter 5, Annex 5 of the EHS technical report for more information about how these are calculated and assumptions made.

Conservation area consents

Decisions on applications for conservation area consent under section 74 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.


An alteration to the original construction which affects the total number of dwellings in the housing stock, for example, conversion of a house into 2 or more flats.

Cost to make decent

The cost of carrying out all works required to ensure that the dwelling meets the Decent Homes standard. This is the estimated required expenditure which includes access equipment (e.g. scaffolding and prelims). It is adjusted to reflect regional and tenure variations in building prices.

County level planning

Is currently undertaken by county councils, metropolitan districts, unitary authorities, London boroughs, national park authorities and the Ebbsfleet, London Legacy and Old Oak and Royal Park development corporations.

County matters – major developments

Applications for developments described as ‘county matters’ are, broadly, those which relate to minerals, waste and associated developments. A more detailed definition is contained in:

  1. (a) Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990; and
  2. (b) the Town and Country Planning (Prescription of County Matters) (England) Regulations 2003.

For the purpose of the CPS1/2 form, all ‘county matter’ development is regarded as ‘major development’. The Development Management Procedure Order (DPMO) 2010 defines ’major development’ as including:

  1. (i) the winning and working of minerals or the use of land for mineral-working deposits;
  2. (ii) waste development;
  3. (iii) the provision of a building or buildings where the floor space to be created by the development is 1,000 square metres or more; and
  4. (iv) development carried out on a site having an area of one hectare or more.


Damp and mould

There are 3 main categories of damp and mould covered on the English Housing Survey:

  • rising damp: where the surveyor has noted the presence of rising damp in at least one of the rooms surveyed during the physical survey. Rising damp occurs when water from the ground rises up into the walls or floors because damp proof courses in walls or damp proof membranes in floors are either not present or faulty.

  • penetrating damp: where the surveyor has noted the presence of penetrating damp in at least one of the rooms surveyed during the physical survey. Penetrating damp is caused by leaks from faulty components of the external fabric e.g. roof covering, gutters etc or leaks from internal plumbing, e.g. water pipes, radiators etc.

  • condensation or mould: caused by water vapour generated by activities like cooking and bathing condensing on cold surfaces like windows and walls. Virtually all dwellings have some level of condensation. Only serious levels of condensation or mould are considered as a problem in published English Housing Survey reports, namely where there are extensive patches of mould growth on walls and ceilings and/or mildew on soft furnishings.

Decent home A home that meets all of the following 4 criteria:

  • it meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing as set out in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

  • it is in a reasonable state of repair (related to the age and condition of a range of building components including walls, roofs, windows, doors, chimneys, electrics and heating systems).

  • it has reasonably modern facilities and services (related to the age, size and layout/location of the kitchen, bathroom and WC and any common areas for blocks of flats, and to noise insulation).

  • it provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort (related to insulation and heating efficiency).

The detailed definition for each of these criteria is included in A decent home: definition and guidance for implementation.

Dependent children

Any person aged 0 to 15 in a household (whether or not in a family) or a person aged 16 to 18 in full-time education and living in a family with his or her parent(s) or grandparent(s). It does not include any people aged 16 to 18 who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household.

Deprived local areas

These are Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) scored and ranked by the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

Seven domains of deprivation which can be experienced by people are combined to produce the overall IMD. These 7 domains relate to:

  • income deprivation
  • employment deprivation
  • health deprivation and disability
  • education skills and training deprivation
  • barriers to housing and services
  • crime
  • living environment deprivation

LSOAs are statistical geography providing uniformity of size. There are 32,844 in England and on average each contains around 1,500 people or 650 households. These ranked areas have been placed into 5 groups of equal numbers of areas, from the 20% most deprived area on the index, to the 20% least deprived.

District level planning

Is currently undertaken by metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts, unitary authorities, London boroughs, national park authorities and the Ebbsfleet, London Legacy and Old Oak and Royal Park development corporations. These authorities include applications for planning permissions on residential, offices, industrial, retail and householder developments.

District matters – major developments

For district matters applications, ‘major development’ means development involving any one or more of the following:

  • The provision of dwellings where:
    • the number of dwellings to be provided is 10 or more; or
    • the development is to be carried out on a site having an area of 0.5 hectares or more and it is not known whether the number of dwellings to be provided is 10 or more.
  • The provision of a building or buildings where the floor space to be created by the development is 1,000 square metres or more; or

  • Development carried out on a site having an area of one hectare or more.

Before 1 April 2014, the statistical returns distinguished between large-scale and small-scale major developments, but this breakdown of figures is no longer requested from local planning authorities as a result of a review of the returns.

District matters – minor developments

For dwellings, a minor development is one where the number of dwellings to be provided is between 1 and 9 inclusive on a site having an area of less than one hectare. Where the number of dwellings to be provided is not known, a site area of less than 0.5 hectares should be used as the definition of a minor development. For all other uses, a minor development is one where the floor space to be created is less than 1,000 square metres or where the site area is less than one hectare. Decisions are classified as relating to a major/minor development on the basis of the development covered by the application which was decided.

Door entry system

This would normally consist of a buzzer and an intercom/camera. The surveyor tests the entry system to check that it is working correctly. It is classified as not working if the system is broken, vandalised or abandoned.

Door viewer

This includes a ‘spyhole’ type viewer fitted to the main entrance door or any glazing in the room containing the door that enables the occupant to see clearly who is at the door.

Double glazing

This covers factory made sealed window units only. It does not include windows with secondary glazing or external doors with double or secondary glazing (other than double glazed patio doors, which are surveyed as representing 2 windows).

Dwelling (English Housing Survey)

The EHS definition of a dwelling is a unit of accommodation which may comprise one or more household spaces (a household space is the accommodation used or available for use by an individual household). A dwelling may be classified as shared or unshared. A dwelling is shared if:

  • the household spaces it contains are ‘part of a converted or shared house’, or
  • not all of the rooms (including kitchen, bathroom and toilet, if any) are behind a door that only that household can use, and
  • there is at least one other such household space at the same address with which it can be combined to form the shared dwelling.

Dwellings that do not meet these conditions are unshared dwellings.

The EHS definition of dwelling is consistent with the Census 2011.

Dwelling (Housing supply; net additional dwellings)

A home or dwelling in the Housing supply; net additional dwellings statistics is defined in line with the Census definition, which defines a dwelling as a self-contained unit of accommodation. Self-containment is where all the rooms (including kitchen, bathroom and toilet) in a household’s accommodation are behind a single door which only that household can use. Non self-contained household spaces at the same address should be counted together as a single dwelling. Therefore, a dwelling can consist of one self-contained household space or 2 or more non-self-contained household spaces at the same address.

Ancillary dwellings (e.g. ‘granny annexes’) are included provided they are self-contained, pay separate council tax from the main residence, do not share access with the main residence (e.g. a shared hallway) and there are no conditional restrictions on occupancy. Communal establishments, i.e. establishments providing managed residential accommodation, are not counted in overall housing supply. These cover university and college student, hospital staff accommodation, hostels/homes, hotels/holiday complexes, defence establishments (not married quarters) and prisons. However, purpose-built (separate) homes (e.g. self-contained flats clustered into units with 4 to 6 bedrooms for students) are included, with each self-contained unit counted as a dwelling.

Non-permanent (or ‘temporary’) dwellings are included if they are the occupant’s main residence and council tax is payable on them as a main residence. These include caravans, mobile homes, converted railway carriages and houseboats. Permanent Gypsy and Traveller pitches should also be counted if they are, or likely to become, the occupants’ main residence.

Dwelling (House building; new build dwellings)

House building statistics collect data on permanent dwellings only (ie dwellings that have a design life of over 60 years).

Dwelling (Stock estimates)

Estimates of the number of dwellings in England and in each local authority district. The estimates are at 31 March each year. The statistics use the Census 2011 as a baseline and apply annual net changes to stock as measured by the related housing supply; net additional dwellings. Estimates are available by tenure. These tenure statistics differ from those published from the English Housing Survey which are in terms of households not dwellings. In addition, the dwelling stock figures include vacant dwellings. The trends are consistent.

Dwelling age

The date of construction of the oldest part of the building.

Dwelling type

Dwellings are classified, on the basis of the surveyor’s inspection, into the following categories:

  • small terraced house: a house with a total floor area of less than 70m2 forming part of a block where at least one house is attached to 2 or more other houses. The total floor area is measured using the original EHS definition of useable floor area, used in EHS reports up to and including the 2012 reports. That definition tends to yield a smaller floor area compared with the definition that is aligned with the Nationally Described Space Standard and used on the EHS since 2013. As a result of the difference between the 2 definitions, some small terraced houses are reported in the 2014 Housing Supply Report as having more than 70m2.

  • medium/large terraced house: a house with a total floor area of 70m2 or more forming part of a block where at least one house is attached to 2 or more other houses. The total floor area is measured using the original EHS definition of useable floor area which tends to yield a small floor area compared with the definition used on the EHS since 2013.

  • end terraced house: a house attached to one other house only in a block where at least one house is attached to 2 or more other houses.

  • mid terraced house: a house attached to 2 other houses in a block.

  • semi-detached house: a house that is attached to just one other in a block of 2.

  • detached house: a house where none of the habitable structure is joined to another building (other than garages, outhouses etc.).

  • bungalow: a house with all of the habitable accommodation on one floor. This excludes chalet bungalows and bungalows with habitable loft conversions, which are treated as houses.

  • converted flat: a flat resulting from the conversion of a house or former non-residential building. Includes buildings converted into a flat plus commercial premises (such as corner shops).

  • purpose built flat, low rise: a flat in a purpose built block less than 6 storeys high. Includes cases where there is only one flat with independent access in a building which is also used for non-domestic purposes.

  • purpose built flat, high rise: a flat in a purpose built block of at least 6 storeys high.


Economic status

Information on economic status is collected on the English Housing Survey by asking respondents to answer the Government Statistical Service harmonised questions on employment. The data collected are then used to assign respondents to one of the categories below.

  • working full-time/part-time: full-time work is defined as 30 or more hours per week. Part-time work is fewer than 30 hours per week. Where more than one answer is given, ‘working’ takes priority over other categories (with the exception that all those over State Pension age who regard themselves as retired are classified as such, regardless of what other answers they give).

  • unemployed: this category covers people who were registered unemployed or not registered unemployed but seeking work.

  • retired: this category includes all those over the State Pension age who reported being retired as well as some other activity. For men the State Pension age is 65 and for women it is 60 if they were born before 6 April 1950. For women born on or after the 6 April 1950, the State Pension age has increased incrementally since April 2010.

  • full-time education: education undertaken in pursuit of a course, where an average of more than 12 hours per week is spent during term time.

  • other inactive: all others; they include people who were permanently sick or disabled, those looking after the family or home and any other activity.

On occasions, full-time education and other inactive are combined and described as other economically inactive.

Electrical safety

  • wiring: this is the cabling from the input electrical supply point, which runs through the meters and consumer units and leading out into the dwelling. The earliest types of wiring used lead or black rubber sheathings to enclose the wires. The danger with this type of cable is the degrading of the rubber: any failure of the insulation can cause the outer covering to become live. Modern wiring is PVC sheathed.

  • earthing: these are the wires joining the components at the electrical distribution centre. The early forms of earthing wires were unsheathed then later covered with green rubber, then green plastic. In 1977 the colour convention changed and all wires had to be coloured green and yellow.

  • consumer unit arrangement (fuse boxes): in older systems, each individual electrical circuit was fed through an individual switch and fuse box. From 1960s through to the 1980s, fuses were collected together into a small number of smaller boxes, normally with a switch on the front which controlled all the circuits leading to the box. These boxes were normally fitted with a cover, the removal of which gave access to the fuses hidden inside. From the early 1980s, the newly named consumer unit (some dwellings have 2) catered for the whole dwelling and was also designed to accommodate modern safety measures namely circuit breakers and residual current devices.

  • overload protection/miniature circuit breakers (MCBs): these provide the most modern form of electrical current overload protection by detecting a fault condition and interrupting the current flow. MCBs replaced cartridge fuses and the original wire fuses (these simply melt when overheated) which formed the earliest form of protection.

  • residual current devices (RCDs): these are designed to break an electrical current very easily by detecting any abnormality in the circuit, for example, through someone touching a live wire. They are normally located in the consumer unit but a separate RCD may exist to protect an additional circuit, for example, an electrical circuit used in the garden.

Energy cost

The total energy cost from space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting, less the costs saved by energy generation as derived from SAP calculations and assumptions. This is measured in £/year using constant prices based on average fuel prices for 2012 (which input into the 2012 SAP calculations) and do not reflect subsequent changes in fuel prices. Energy costs for each dwelling are based on a standard occupancy and a standard heating regime.

Energy efficiency rating (EER, also known as SAP rating)

A dwelling’s energy costs per m2 of floor area for standard occupancy of a dwelling and a standard heating regime and is calculated from the survey using a simplified form of SAP. The energy costs take into account the costs of space and water heating, ventilation and lighting, less cost savings from energy generation technologies. They do not take into account variation in geographical location. The rating is expressed on a scale of 1-100 where a dwelling with a rating of 1 has poor energy efficiency (high costs) and a dwelling with a rating of 100 represents zero net energy cost per year. It is possible for a dwelling to have an EER/SAP rating of over 100 where it produces more energy than it consumes, although such dwellings will be rare within the English housing stock.

The detailed methodology for calculating SAP to monitor the energy efficiency of dwellings was updated in 2012 to reflect developments in the energy efficiency technologies and knowledge of dwelling energy performance. These changes in the SAP methodology were relatively minor compared with previous SAP methodology updates in 2005 and 2009. It means, however that a SAP rating using the 2009 method is not directly comparable to one calculated under the 2012 methodology, and it would be incorrect to do so. All SAP statistics used in reporting from 2013 are based on the SAP 2012 methodology and this includes time series data from 1996 to the current reporting period (i.e. the SAP 2012 methodology has been retrospectively applied to 1996 and subsequent survey data to provide consistent results in the 2013 and following reports).

Energy efficiency rating (EER)/SAP bands

The 1-100 EER/SAP energy efficiency rating is also presented in an A-G banding system for an Energy Performance Certificate, where Band A rating represents low energy costs (i.e. the most efficient band) and Band G rating represents high energy costs (the least efficient band). The break points in SAP used for the EER Bands are:

  • Band A (92–100)
  • Band B (81–91)
  • Band C (69–80)
  • Band D (55–68)
  • Band E (39–54)
  • Band F (21–38)
  • Band G (1–20)

Energy efficiency schemes

  • Energy Company Obligation (ECO): This obligation was introduced in January 2013 to reduce energy consumption and support people at greater risk of living in fuel poverty. The larger energy companies are set obligations to install insulation and heating measures in order to achieve reductions in energy usage and heating costs. ECO 1 was from January 2013 to March 2015, and ECO 2 was from April 2015 to March 2017. ECO Help-to heat is from April 2017 to September 2018.

  • Green Deal Cashback: This scheme rewarded those making energy efficiency improvements under the Green Deal Framework. It let households in England and Wales claim money from government on energy-saving improvements such as insulation, draught-proofing and double-glazing.

  • Green Deal Finance: The Green Deal Finance Company offered finance to those installing improvements approved for installation under the Green Deal Framework. It enabled paying for the installations of Green Deal improvements through the energy bills tied to the property.

  • Green Deal Home Improvement Fund: This incentive scheme was open to all householders in England and Wales wanting to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The scheme enabled participants to claim cashback for installing energy efficiency measures, for example solid wall insulation.

  • Feed-In Tariffs: Introduced in 2010, they provide small scale generators of electricity with tariff payments on both generation and export of renewable and low carbon electricity. Eligible schemes include those producing less than 5 megawatt from photo-voltaic panels, wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion or less than 2kW from micro-CHP (combined heat and power plants).

  • Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP): The RHPP scheme was a government financial support scheme which provided one-off grants to help householders and landlords with the cost of installing eligible renewable heat technologies.

  • Renewable Heat Incentive: A government scheme which provides a fixed payment for 7 years for the renewable heat a household generates through biomass boilers, solar water heating and certain heat pumps. It is similar to Feed-In Tariffs, but the scheme is funded by HM Treasury, and there is no ‘National Grid for Heat’, so importing and exporting heat is irrelevant.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Based on current energy performance the EPC provides a range of indicators, such as whether the property would benefit in terms of improved performance from a range of heating, insulation and lighting upgrades and the likely performance arising from the application of those measures.

The EPC assessment is based on a simplified form of the energy efficiency SAP known as reduced data SAP (RdSAP). Following revisions to the way that RdSAP software implements improvements as part of the EPC production process, a new EPC methodology has been applied to the English Housing Survey 2015 data. Several additional improvement measures have been added to the methodology, and for some existing measures the criteria and/or improvement specification has changed (see Chapter 5 of the English Housing Survey 2015 to 2016: technical report for further information).

The English Housing Survey currently provides the following EPC based indicators, calculated using the survey’s own approach to SAP:

  • current and post improvement performance:
    • energy efficiency rating (EER) and bands
    • environmental impact rating (EIR) and bands
    • primary energy use (kWh/m2/year)
    • energy cost (£/year) for space heating, water heating, lighting and renewables
    • CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions (tonnes/year)
  • improvement measures: The Technical report provides a list of improvements specified in the updated EHS methodology. These include loft insulation measures, wall and floor insulation measures, boiler upgrades, solar water heating, glazing and lighting measures. They are also listed in the relevant Annex Table.

  • the notional costs of installing the recommended measures: The EHS also estimates the notional costs of installing each of the recommended measures and the total cost of applying all the recommended measures to the dwelling stock. The methodology for estimating these costs has also been revised.

Enforcement activity

Local planning authorities have discretionary powers to take formal enforcement action if, in their view, an unacceptable breach of planning control has occurred. Where it is necessary to stop a breach immediately, the authority may issue a Temporary Stop Notice. This will halt development for 28 days while the alleged breach is investigated and further enforcement action is considered, without the need for the authority to issue an associated enforcement notice.

The authority may issue an Enforcement Notice requiring the alleged breach to be remedied. If an authority considers that any activity alleged in an Enforcement Notice should cease before the end of the specified compliance period, they may serve a Stop Notice prohibiting continuation of that activity. Where conditional planning permission has been granted for a development of land and there has been a failure to comply with one or more of the conditions, an authority may serve a Breach of Condition Notice on any person who is carrying out or has carried out development, or anyone having control of the land, requiring compliance with the conditions specified in the notice.

Equity loan

An affordable housing scheme where the majority of the cost (usually at least 70%) is funded by the purchaser through a mortgage and savings (deposit). The remaining cost of the home is paid for by the government and the house builder through an equity loan. The property title is held by the home owner who can therefore sell their home at any time and upon sale should provide the government and the house builder the value of the same equity share of the property when it is sold.


Ethnicity classification on the English Housing Survey is according to respondents’ own perceived ethnic group.

Ethnic minority background

Is used throughout the published reports of the English Housing Survey to refer to those respondents who do not identify as White.

The classification of ethnic group used in the EHS is consistent with the 2011 Census. Respondents are classified as White if they answer one of the following 4 options:

  1. English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British
  2. Irish
  3. Gypsy or Irish Traveller
  4. Any Other White background

Otherwise, they are classified as being from an ethnic minority background.

Excess cold (HHSRS Category 1 hazard)

Households living in homes with a threat to health arising from sub-optimal indoor temperatures. The assessment is based on the most vulnerable group who, for this hazard, are those aged 65 years or more (the assessment does not require a person of this age to be an occupant).

The English Housing Survey does not measure achieved temperatures in the home and therefore this hazard is based on dwellings with an energy efficiency rating of less than 35 based on the SAP 2001 methodology. Under the SAP 2009 methodology, used for the 2010-2012 EHS reports, the comparable threshold was recalculated to be 35.79 and the latter was used in providing statistics for the HHSRS Category 1 hazard. Since 2013, the EHS reports have used the SAP 2012 methodology and the comparable excess cold threshold has been recalculated to 33.52.


The English Housing Survey captures data regarding site exposure of the dwelling. This is different to exposure zones, which indicate the approximate amount of wind driven rain which the building may be subject to. In the EHS, 4 categories of site exposure are recorded:

  • Not exposed: The dwelling is in a sheltered position, possibly surrounded by other buildings or trees or tucked away in a valley.
  • Slightly exposed: The dwelling is quite sheltered but may be buffeted by winds from time to time.
  • Exposed: The dwelling is open to the elements, possibly on all 4 sides with little shelter provided by other buildings or natural obstacles.
  • Very exposed: The dwelling is permanently exposed to the worst that the English elements can offer. Cliff top houses and isolated hill farms might fall into this category.

External lighting

Exists where entrance to dwelling with a private front plot is adequately lit, or where external lighting exists to dwellings with shared plots or facilities.


First time buyer

First time buyers are defined on the English Housing Survey as households that have purchased a property that is their main home in the last 3 years, and in which neither the Household Reference Person (HRP) or partner have previously owned a property. It includes households who have purchased their property outright as well as those who are buying with the help of a mortgage or loan.

Full-time education

Full-time education is education undertaken in pursuit of a course, where an average of more than 12 hours per week is spent during term time.


Gross household income

The gross annual income of all adults living in a household from wages, pensions, other private sources, savings and state benefits. This does not include any housing related benefits or allowances. This measure is divided by 52 to calculate weekly income. Income is presented in quintiles throughout published reports of the English Housing Survey (see income quintiles).

Gross income of the Household Reference Person (HRP) and partner

The gross annual income of the HRP and partner from wages, pensions, other private sources, savings and state benefits. This does not include any housing related benefits or allowances. This measure is divided by 52 to calculate weekly income. Income is presented in quintiles throughout published reports of the English Housing Survey (see income quintiles and Household Reference Person (HRP)).


Habitable room

A room in the dwelling that offers ‘living accommodation’. Includes bedrooms, kitchens if there is additional space to provide a dining area large enough to accommodate a table and chairs (typically an area of 2m2 in addition to kitchen space). A fully converted room in the loft space is classified as a habitable room even if it can only be reached by a fixed ladder or unsafe staircase.

Heating controls

(a) For central heating systems:

  • timers which control when the heating goes on and off. They range from simple manual timeclocks to complex digital programmers and most include a manual override.
  • room thermostats which measure air temperature in the home, and switch the space heating on and off. They can be used to set a single target temperature and there may be one or more of these in the dwelling.
  • thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) which enable the temperature of radiators in individual rooms to be modified manually.

(b) For storage heating systems:

  • manual or automatic charge controls adjust the amount of heat stored overnight. The more recently introduced automatic controls measure the temperature in the room (or more rarely, outside the house). If the temperature is milder these allow less heat to be stored, saving money.
  • celect type controller has electronic sensors throughout the dwelling linking to a central control device. It monitors the individual room sensors and optimises the charging of all storage heaters individually.

Heating fuel

  • gas: mains gas is relatively inexpensive and produces lower emissions per unit of energy than most other commonly used fuels. Liquefied Petroleum Gas and bottled gas are still associated with slightly higher costs and emissions.

  • electricity: standard rate electricity has the highest costs and CO2 emissions associated with main fuels, but is used in dwellings without a viable alternative or as a back-up to mains gas. An off-peak tariff such as Economy 7 is cheaper than bottled gas but with the same emissions as standard electricity.

  • oil: in terms of both costs and emissions, oil lies between main gas and electricity.

  • solid fuel: most solid fuels have similar costs to oil, with the exception of processed wood which can be more expensive than off-peak electricity. Fuels included are coal and anthracite, with CO2 emissions above those of gas and oil; wood, which has the lowest emissions of the main fuels; and smokeless fuel, whose emissions are close to those of electricity. By law, some areas (usually towns or cities) are designated as smoke control areas where the use of solid fuels emitting smoke is illegal.

Heating system

The English Housing Survey currently covers 3 main types of heating covered:

  • central heating system: most commonly a system with a gas fired boiler and radiators which distribute heat throughout the dwelling (but also included in this definition are warm air systems, electric ceiling/underfloor and communal heating). It is generally considered to be a cost effective and relatively efficient method of heating a dwelling. Communal systems use heat generated in a centralised location for residential space and water heating. This could be from:

    • a central boiler using any fuel which supplies a number of dwellings
    • waste heat from power stations distributed through community heating schemes
    • heat from a local CHP (combined heat and power) system
  • storage heaters: predominately used in dwellings that have an off-peak electricity tariff. Storage heaters use off-peak electricity to store heat in clay bricks or a ceramic material, this heat is then released throughout the day. However, storage heating can prove expensive if too much on peak electricity is used during the day.

  • room heaters: this category includes all other types of heaters such as fixed gas, fixed electric or portable electric heaters. This type of heating is generally considered to be the least cost effective of the main systems and produces more carbon dioxide emissions per kWh.

Heat pumps

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air into a fluid which passes through a compressor to increase its temperature. This higher temperature heat is then used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, warm air heaters or hot water in the home.

Ground source heat pumps absorb heat from the ground through a loop of pipe buried in the ground containing a mixture of water and antifreeze. The heat is absorbed into the fluid and then passed through a heat exchanger into the heat pump to be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water. The ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, so the heat pump can be used throughout the year. The length of the ground loop depends on the size of the dwelling and the amount of heat required. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in. If space is limited, a vertical borehole can be drilled instead.

Help to Buy: equity loan

An equity loan is government financial assistance given to eligible applicants to purchase an eligible home through a government equity mortgage secured on the home. The government equity mortgage is ranked second in priority behind an owner’s main mortgage lender. This scheme offers up to 20% of the value (40% in Greater London) as government assistance to purchasers buying a new build home.

The buyer must provide a cash deposit of at least 5% and a main mortgage lender must provide a loan of at least 75% (55% in Greater London). The government assistance to buy is made through an equity loan made by Homes England to the purchaser. Help to Buy equity loans are only available on new build homes and the maximum purchase price is £600,000. Equity loan assistance for purchasers is paid via house builders registered with Homes England to participate in the Help to Buy equity loan initiative. The payment is made to builders (via solicitors) at purchaser legal completion. The equity loan is provided without fees for the first 5 years of ownership.

The property title is held by the home owner who can therefore sell their home at any time and upon sale should provide the government the value of the same equity share of the property when it is sold. If government contributed 20% of the value to buy a new home, the owner will repay 20% of the future value (the value at the time they sell) to government, e.g. when selling their equity loan home. See more information on the Help to Buy: equity loan scheme

The following definitions are used in relation to the equity loan scheme:

  • completed equity loans (‘purchaser legal completions’): a purchaser legal completion is defined as occurring when the home is ready for occupation, the sale contract between house builder and purchaser has completed and all mortgage funds, deposit and equity loan assistance have been paid to the house builder. The purchaser takes possession after legal completion.

  • reservations: a reservation is defined as the point at which an Authority to Proceed (ATP) is issued by the local Help to Buy agent. The ATP is issued by the local Help to Buy agent following their approval of a firm reservation of a Help to Buy home. ATP issue is the approval for purchasers to commence conveyancing and submit a full mortgage application to the main mortgage lender.

Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee

The Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme opened on 8 October 2013 and was available across the United Kingdom. Under the scheme the government offered lenders the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgage loans where the borrower had a deposit of between 5% and 20%. The scheme could be used for mortgages on both new build and existing homes, by first-time buyers, home movers and those remortgaging.

In order to qualify for a loan supported by the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee, an eligibility criteria had to be met which is set out in the scheme rules. For example, the scheme was not available on buy-to-let mortgages or second homes, and the property value had to be £600,000 or less. From 1 October 2014, no new loans with a loan-to-income ratio of 4.5 and above could be included in the scheme.

The guarantee compensates participating mortgage lenders for a portion of net losses suffered in the event of repossession. The guarantee applies down to 80% of the purchase value of the guaranteed property covering 95% of these net losses. The lender retained a 5% risk in the portion of losses covered by the guarantee. This ensured that the lender retained some risk in every mortgage originated.

Over the life of the scheme the government made available up to £12 billion of guarantees, which was sufficient to support up to £130 billion of high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages.

The Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme closed to new loans on the 31 December 2016 as planned. Participating mortgage lenders were able to continue to complete loans into the scheme until 30 June 2017, where they had an application date on or before 31 December 2016.

Help to Buy: NewBuy

The title of the NewBuy Guarantee scheme was changed in early 2014 to ‘Help to Buy: NewBuy’, so that it is grouped together with the government’s other schemes designed to help prospective home buyers – Help to Buy: equity loan and Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee. The scheme allows borrowers to secure up to a 95% loan-to-value mortgage on a new build property.

The guarantee is provided by government, in partnership with the house building industry. In the event of a borrower defaulting on their mortgage, government and the respective house builder assume responsibility for any debt which is not already paid back to the mortgage lender. Mortgages are covered by the government guarantee from point of completion. Government’s maximum total contingent liability is capped at £1 billion. Each time a property is sold under the Help to Buy: NewBuy Guarantee scheme, government’s maximum possible cost within this limit increases by 5.5% of the property’s sale value.

Government’s costs will be incurred only when: (i) Help to Buy: NewBuy properties have been purchased (completed), possessed, and/or resold, and have attracted losses, and those losses have been claimed by the appropriate lender/s; and (ii) the total of such losses is in excess of the total of the builder’s corresponding indemnity fund.

The Help to Buy: NewBuy Guarantee scheme closed to new mortgage offers on 8 March 2015. Any final transactions were completed on or before 8 September 2015.


One person or a group of people (not necessarily related) who have the accommodation as their only or main residence, and (for a group) share cooking facilities and share a living room or sitting room or dining area.

The English Housing Survey definition of household is slightly different from the definition used in the 2011 Census. Unlike the EHS, the 2011 Census did not limit household membership to people who had the accommodation as their only or main residence. The EHS included that restriction because it asks respondents about their second homes, the unit of data collection on the EHS, therefore, needs to include only those people who have the accommodation as their only or main residence.

Household in poverty

A household with income below 60% of the equivalised median household income (calculated before any housing costs are deducted). Income equivalisation is the adjustment of income to take into account the varied cost of living according to the size and type of household (for further information see Chapter 5, Annex 4 of the EHS technical report).

Household reference person (HRP)

The person in whose name the dwelling is owned or rented or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation. In the case of joint owners and tenants, the person with the highest income is taken as the HRP. Where incomes are equal, the older is taken as the HRP. This procedure increases the likelihood that the HRP better characterises the household’s social and economic position. The English Housing Survey definition of HRP is not consistent with the Census 2011, in which the HRP is chosen on basis of their economic activity. Where economic activity is the same, the older is taken as HRP, or if they are the same age, HRP is the first listed on the questionnaire.

Household type

The main classification of household type uses the following categories; some categories may be split or combined in different tables:

  • couple no dependent child(ren)
  • couple with dependent child(ren)
  • couple with dependent and independent child(ren)
  • couple with independent child(ren)
  • lone parent with dependent child(ren)
  • lone parent with dependent and independent child(ren)
  • lone parent with independent child(ren)
  • 2 or more families
  • lone person sharing with other lone persons
  • one male
  • one female

Householder developments

Householder developments (as referred to in some of the planning statistics live tables, such as pilot dropdown table 1) are defined as those within the curtilage of a dwelling house which require an application for planning permission and are not a change of use.

  • included in householder developments are extensions, conservatories, loft conversions, dormer windows, alterations, garages, car ports or outbuildings, swimming pools, walls, fences, domestic vehicular accesses including footway crossovers, porches and satellite dishes. Granny annexes have been included with effect from 1 July 2014, having previously been recorded under dwellings.

  • excluded from householder developments are applications relating to any work to one or more flats, applications to change the number of dwellings (flat conversions, building a separate house in the garden), changes of use to part or all of the property to non-residential (including business) uses, or anything outside the garden of the property (including stables if in a separate paddock).

By definition, householder developments that do not require an application for planning permission are also excluded – e.g. for extensions, these include those for which permitted development rights exist, including larger householder extensions (as defined under Permitted development rights) for which local authority prior approval is needed, and those that satisfy other conditions within the General Permitted Development Order, for which prior approval is not needed, and for which data are therefore not collected.

Housing associations see Private Registered Providers (PRPs)

Housing Benefit

A benefit that is administered by local authorities, which is designed to assist people who rent their homes and have difficulty meeting their housing costs. Council tenants on Housing Benefit receive a rent rebate which means that their rent due is reduced by the amount of that rebate. Private and social housing tenants usually receive Housing Benefit (or rent allowance) personally, although sometimes it is paid direct to the landlord.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

A risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants in residential properties in England and Wales. It replaced the Fitness Standard in April 2006.

The purpose of the HHSRS assessment is not to set a standard but to generate objective information in order to determine and inform enforcement decisions. There are 29 categories of hazard, each of which is separately rated, based on the risk to the potential occupant who is most vulnerable to that hazard. The individual hazard scores are grouped into 10 bands where the highest bands (A-C representing scores of 1,000 or more) are considered to pose Category 1 hazards. Local authorities have a duty to act where Category 1 hazards are present, and may take into account the vulnerability of the actual occupant in determining the best course of action.

For the purposes of the decent homes standard, homes posing a Category 1 hazard are non-decent on its criterion that a home must meet the statutory minimum requirements.

The English Housing Survey is not able to replicate the HHSRS assessment in full as part of a large scale survey. Its assessment employs a mix of hazards that are directly assessed by surveyors in the field and others that are indirectly assessed from detailed related information collected. For 2006 and 2007, the survey (the then English House Condition Survey) produced estimates based on 15 of the 29 hazards. From 2008, the survey is able to provide a more comprehensive assessment based on 26 of the 29 hazards. See the EHS technical note on housing and neighbourhood conditions for a list of the hazards covered.


Income (equivalised)

Household incomes have been ‘equivalised’, that is adjusted (using the modified Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development scale) to reflect the number of people in a household. This allows the comparison of incomes for households with different sizes and compositions.

The English Housing Survey variables are modelled to produce a Before Housing Costs (BHC) income measure for the purpose of equivalisation. The BHC income variable includes: Household Reference Person and partner’s income from benefits and private sources (including income from savings), income from other household members, housing benefit, winter fuel payment and the deduction of net council tax payment.

An After Housing Costs (AHC) income is derived by deducting rent and mortgage payments from the Before Housing Costs measure.

Income quintiles

All households are divided into 5 equal groups based on their income (i.e. those in the bottom 20%, the next 20% and so on). These groups are known as quintiles. These can be used to compare income levels of particular groups to the overall population.


There are 2 main types of insulation usually covered in published reports of the English Housing Survey:

  • wall insulation

    • cavity walls: where a dwelling has external walls of predominantly cavity construction, it is defined as having cavity wall insulation if at least 50% of the cavity walls are filled with insulation. This could have been fitted during construction or retrospectively injected between the masonry leaves of the cavity wall.

    • solid walls: where a dwelling has external walls of predominantly masonry solid construction, it is defined as having solid wall insulation if at least 50% of the solid walls are fitted with insulation. This could be applied either externally (e.g. insulated board attached to the external face with a render finish) or internally (e.g. insulated plasterboard fitted to the external walls inside each room, with a plaster finish).

    • other walls: these are any dwellings with predominantly non-cavity or masonry solid walls (e.g. timber, metal or concrete frames). If at least 50% of the walls are fitted with insulation, the dwelling is defined as having other wall insulation.

  • loft insulation: the presence and depth of loft insulation is collected for all houses and top-floor flats. Insulation could be found between joists above the ceiling of the top floor of the dwelling or between the roof timbers where the loft has been converted to a habitable space. Where insulation could not be observed, information was taken from the householder or from imputed estimates based on the age and type of the dwelling.

Insulation – new cavity wall insulation variable

For the 2015 Headline Report, the English Housing Survey introduced a new measure of cavity wall insulation (variable wins95x). This new measure incorporates more up-to-date information regarding the insulation of buildings built since 1991 and aligns the English Housing Survey methodology to a common method for calculating energy efficiency of buildings.

In compliance with new Building Regulations, an increasing proportion of dwellings built in 1991 or after with cavity walls had insulation fitted at the time of construction (known as ‘as built’ cavity wall insulation), although compliance could also be achieved through other techniques. The non-intrusive survey undertaken in the EHS would not always be able to identify as built insulation, and the Survey has to assume that these properties have insulation. To align with current RdSAP methodology and to improve our methodology, the English Housing Survey has for 2015 data introduced a new variable, which assumes that properties built in 1995 or after has as built insulation. This is the assumption used in the RdSAP model, which in turn reflects that cavity wall insulation was not used as often as previously thought to comply with the new Building Regulations in the early 1990s.

In the earlier variable (wins90x), properties built in 1991 or after were assumed to be insulated, as it was thought builders used cavity wall insulation to comply with the new Building Regulations. Due to changes in data collection the new variable can only be taken back to 2008. Trends from earlier reports hold, though the exact numbers produced by the new variable are lower (as properties built in 1991 up to 1995 without evidence of retrofitted cavity wall insulation are no longer assumed to be insulated).

Intermediate affordable housing

Is housing at prices and rents above those of social rent but below market price or rents, and which meet the criteria as set out in the definition for affordable housing. These can include equity loan products, shared ownership, rent to buy and intermediate rent.

Intermediate rent

Sub-market rent where the rent must not exceed 80% of the current market rate (inclusive of service charge). This can include schemes with specific eligibility criteria, the reduced rent is an opportunity for the tenant to save towards a house purchasing deposit. As part of the intermediate rent arrangement there may also be a future opportunity to purchase the property (or a share of the property) currently being rented.


Large Scale Voluntary Transfer

A Large Scale Voluntary Transfer is the voluntary transfer of ownership of all or some of a local authority’s tenanted and leasehold homes to a private registered housing provider, registered by the Social Housing Regulator, in return for a payment for the value of that stock.

Listed building consents

Decisions by the district planning authority on:

(i) applications for listed building consent to extend and/or alter under section 8 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990; and

(ii) applications for listed building consent to demolish under section 8 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Logistic regression

Is a regression model where the dependent variable is binary i.e. takes one of two values which are assigned as 0 or 1. The model predicts the probability of the dependent variable taking the value 1 for particular values of the independent variables. The regression coefficients are usually estimated using maximum likelihood.

Logistic regression measures the relationship between the categorical dependent variable and one or more independent variables by estimating probabilities using a logistic function, which is the cumulative logistic distribution. Thus, it treats the same set of problems as probit regression using similar techniques, with the latter using a cumulative normal distribution curve instead. Equivalently, in the latent variable interpretations of these 2 methods, the first assumes a standard logistic distribution of errors and the second a standard normal distribution of errors.

London affordable rent

London affordable rent is a tenure of affordable housing available in London by the Greater London Authority. It was introduced in Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21. For legal and regulatory purposes, London affordable rent is an affordable rent, which must be set in accordance with the Regulator of Social Housing’s Affordable Rent guidance. The landlord of these homes must be registered with the Regulator of Social Housing. For the purposes of the affordable housing supply statistics, London affordable rent is presented separately to affordable rent.

London Living Rent

London Living Rent is a tenure of affordable housing available in London by the Greater London Authority. It was introduced in Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21 and is an intermediate rent product. For the purpose of of the affordable housing supply statistics, London Living Rent is presented within the total for intermediate rent.

Long-term limiting illness

This is consistent with the core definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010. A person is considered to have a disability if they have a long-standing illness, disability or impairment which causes substantial difficulty with day-to-day activities.


Marital status

  • single, that is never married and never registered in a same-sex civil partnership
  • married, or in a registered same-sex civil partnership
  • separated, but still legally married or in a same-sex civil partnership
  • divorced, or formerly in a same-sex civil partnership which is now legally dissolved
  • widowed, or a surviving partner from a same-sex civil partnership

Median income

The amount that divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount.

Mortgage type

Three mortgage types are usually referred in published reports of the English Housing Survey:

  • repayment: a mortgage in which the borrower repays the capital and interest together in fixed instalments over a fixed period (usually 25 years). The most common and most widely available type of mortgage.

  • interest only (with no linked investments): a mortgage in which the mortgagor is only required to pay off the interest that arises from the principal that is borrowed. Because only the interest is being paid off, the interest payments remain fairly constant throughout the term of the mortgage.

  • endowment: a mortgage linked to an endowment insurance policy which is intended to repay the capital sum on maturity.

  • other mortgages: including interest only with linked investments and combined endowment and repayment mortgages.


Net additional dwellings

A measure of the net change in dwelling stock between 1 April and 31 March of the following year. The net change comprises the number of new house building completions plus any gains or losses through conversions, changes of use and demolitions (also referred to as Net supply of housing).

New build dwelling completion

In principle, a dwelling is regarded as complete when it becomes ready for occupation or when a completion certificate is issued whether it is in fact occupied or not. In practice, the reporting of some completions may be delayed and some completions may be missed if no completion certificate was requested by the developer or owner, although this is unusual.

New build dwelling start

A dwelling is counted as started on the date work begins on the laying of the foundation, including ‘slabbing’ for houses that require it, but not including site preparation. Thus when foundation work commences on a pair of semi-detached houses, 2 houses are counted as started, and when work begins on a block of flats all the dwellings in that block are counted as started. The starts of houses in building schemes are usually phased over a period of weeks or even, in very large schemes, months.

New build dwelling tenure

For the purposes of house building statistics, the term tenure refers to the nature of the organisation responsible for the development of a new housing start or completion. It does not necessarily describe the terms of occupancy for the dwelling on completion. For example, some housing associations develop homes for sale on the open market. Such homes would be reported in the Housing Association tenure of these statistics, but would ultimately most likely be owned and occupied in the private sector.

Housing associations has been used as the generic name for all social landlords not covered by local authorities. In previous editions housing associations were referred to as Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), and the technical term (private) Registered Provider (PRP) of social housing is also sometimes used. The more all-encompassing description of ‘housing associations’ is now seen as more helpful to users of house building statistics.

New household

Where neither the Household Reference Person (HRP) nor their spouse/partner occupied the HRP’s previous permanent accommodation, in either of their names. The English Housing Survey does not differentiate between previous accommodation within England and outside of England (including abroad).

Non-dependent children

Any person aged over 18 or those aged 16-18 who are not in full-time education living in a family with his or her parent(s) or grandparent(s).


Off-peak electricity

This supply is identified by the presence of a multi-rate meter (as opposed to single rate) and is able to provide discounted electricity tariffs during periods of reduced demand (such as at night). This can reduce the cost of heating, most commonly for those with, storage radiator systems. For cases where presence of off peak electricity was unknown we have assumed this to be not present if there is no off-peak heating or hot water system. Any remaining unknown cases were also assumed to not have off-peak electricity for ease of analysis.

Older households

Households where the oldest person in the household is aged 55 or over.

OLS (ordinary least squares or linear) regression

OLS regression is an approach for modelling the relationship between a continuous dependent variable and one or more explanatory variables (or independent variables). The relationships are modelled using linear predictor functions whose unknown model parameters are estimated from the data using the least squares approach.

Other public sector dwellings

‘Other’ public sector dwellings follow the Census definition of a dwelling and include dwellings owned by any public sector body other than lower-tier local authorities (district councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan district councils and London boroughs) or Private Registered Providers. This category includes dwellings owned by government departments (e.g. Ministry of Defence) and other public sector agencies (e.g. the NHS, the Forestry Commission, the Prison Service or county councils). Please note that it includes dwellings that are vacant even if they are scheduled for demolition at a future date.


Households are said to be overcrowded if they have fewer bedrooms available than the notional number needed according to the bedroom standard definition.


Parking provision

The English Housing Survey records the ‘best’ parking available to the dwelling i.e. if the home has both a garage and off street parking, parking provision is coded as ‘garage’. The parking provision does not have to be located on the plot of the dwelling – an off street parking space or garage may be in a block further down the street or round the corner.

All types of parking provision recorded are for the exclusive use of the survey dwelling apart from any available parking in communal areas. Communal parking relates to car parking provision for the module or block of which the survey dwelling is a part. Dwellings may have access to more than one type of communal parking facility. Other off street parking refers to either a designated parking space or a car port at the dwelling plot.

  • Adequate parking: street parking generally being available outside or adjacent to the house or block of flats where the surveyed flat is located and the road is sufficiently wide to allow easy passage of traffic.

  • Inadequate parking: it is difficult to park outside the house or block of flats where the surveyed flat is located. This might be due to the volume of cars competing for places, or due to legal restrictions on parking.

  • None: it is not possible to park outside the house or block of flats where the surveyed flat is located at any time due to either the distance from the road or permanent parking restrictions.

Permitted development rights

Planning permission for some types of development has been granted nationally through the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. In some cases, if the legislation is complied with, developments can go ahead without the requirement to notify the local planning authority and hence no way of capturing data exists. In other cases, the General Permitted Development Order requires an application to the local planning authority to determine whether prior approval is required, and figures for 7 such categories are collected for district matters:

Personal well-being questions

Respondents were asked to give their answers on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is ‘not at all’ and 10 is ‘completely’.

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
  • Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
  • Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?


The English Housing Survey records a number of details relating to the land immediately surrounding a dwelling, referred to as the dwelling’s plot. The plot may be private (exclusive access) or shared (shared access, for example where a block of flats has a shared garden). The plot may consist of hard landscaping (e.g. concrete, tarmac, paving, gravel), soft landscaping (e.g. lawn, flower/vegetable beds), or a combination.

Preserved Right to Buy

Right to Buy that applies to secure council tenants whose home was transferred from a local authority to another landlord (such as a housing association) and who are still living in that same home as at the time of the transfer. It can also apply if the tenant then moved to another property owned by the new landlord.

Prior approvals for permitted developments

Prior approval means that a developer has to seek approval from the local planning authority that specified elements of the development are acceptable before work can proceed. The matters for prior approval vary depending on the type of development and these are set out in full in the relevant parts in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order. A local planning authority cannot consider any other matters when determining a prior approval application.

Private accommodation

This excludes homes in hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation and institutional residences such as student halls, army barracks and care homes. The English Housing Survey covers only private accommodation.

Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes

Schemes where local authorities contract with private sector firms to build, improve, manage and maintain their social housing stock. New build local authority stock for social rent are included in the PFI line in the Affordable housing supply statistical release. Private Finance Initiative figures are mostly new build but will include a small number of acquisitions.

Private registered providers (PRPs)

These are independent societies, bodies of trustees or companies in England established for the purpose of providing low-cost social housing for people in housing need on a non-profit-making basis. Any trading surplus is used to maintain existing homes and to help finance new ones. They are major providers of new social homes for rent, while many also run shared ownership schemes to help people who cannot afford to buy their own homes outright.

In England, housing associations are funded and regulated by Homes England. The Regulator of Social Housing maintains a list of social housing providers registered with it including the latest registrations and deregistrations.

Private registered providers were previously termed Registered Social Landlords or housing associations. The term excludes local authorities, who also provide social housing, and local authority registered providers.


Recent movers

The English Housing Survey defines recent movers as households which moved into their current home in the last 12 months. This includes both new and continuing households, but does not include sitting tenant purchasers.

Region (English Housing Survey)

A 3 region classification is often used on the English Housing Survey to present geographical findings, as follows:

  • North: North East; North West; and Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Midlands and East: East Midlands; West Midlands; and East
  • London and South: London; South East; and South West

Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) see Private Registered Providers (PRPs)

Regulation 3 and 4 consents

Under regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992 a local planning authority makes an application to itself for permission to develop land within its area and determines that application – such as for a school. Regulation 4 is concerned with planning permission for development of land in which the local planning authority has an interest but which it does not itself propose to carry out.

Renewable energy

Data is collected on the presence of 3 types of renewable technology:

  • solar thermal panels: these are usually roof mounted and use direct sunlight to heat water, providing an additional source of domestic hot water to the internal boiler or other water heater. The most common types are evacuated tube and glazed flat plate collectors.

  • photovoltaic panels: a photovoltaic cell is a device that converts light into electric current, contributing to the domestic electricity supply. A large photovoltaic system could provide a surplus of energy, allowing a household to export electricity to the national grid.

  • wind turbines: a domestic small-scale wind turbine harnesses the power of the wind and uses it to generate electricity. The sample size of dwellings with this feature is currently too small to provide robust estimates for reporting.

Rent to Buy scheme

An affordable housing scheme where homes are let at an intermediate rent (at or below 80% of the market rate) to tenants who plan to buy in the future but need a period of lower rents to help them to save for a deposit. After an initial rental period (at least the first 5 years of the life of the property) the tenant has the option to buy outright the home they are living in. Grant funded Rent to Buy has to be set at no more than 80% of the market rate and is not subject to rent reduction.

Right to Acquire scheme

The Right to Acquire scheme was introduced by the Housing Act 1996 with effect from 1 April 1997 and enables eligible housing association tenants living in qualifying properties to buy their rented home at a discount. Right to Acquire only applies to properties built or bought by a housing association after 31 March 1997 (and funded through a social housing grant provided by the Housing Corporation or local council). Properties transferred from a local authority to a housing association after 31 March 1997 are also eligible. Some properties are exempt from Right to Acquire including sheltered housing and homes located in small rural settlements. The discount is between £9,000 and £16,000 on the price of the property and it varies by local authority. See further details.

Right to Buy scheme

The Right to Buy scheme gives secure tenants in a local authority home the opportunity to buy their home at a discount. In order to qualify for the scheme a social tenant must have lived for a total of at least 3 years in a public sector tenancy. The scheme is also available to assured tenants of non-charitable housing associations who have transferred with their homes from a local authority as part of a stock transfer. In this case the tenants is said to have a preserved Right to Buy.


SAP rating see Standard Assessment Procedure and Energy Efficiency Rating

Secondary amenities

Additional WCs and baths/showers that are located inside the dwelling.

Section 106 (S106) agreement

A legal agreement (similar to a covenant) which ensures that developers contribute towards the infrastructure that is required to make a development acceptable in planning terms. Contributions may be either financial or in kind and may be used to deliver affordable housing. The agreement is a contract entered into by a local planning authority and a property developer under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 under which the developer agrees to provide defined facilities, such as affordable housing, as part of the proposed development.

Secure windows and doors

The main entrance door to the dwelling and any accessible windows need to be assessed by surveyors as either highly secure or fairly highly secure.

  • Main entrance door
    • High: good quality door that is double glazed or contains no glazing. It should have a strong frame, and auto deadlocking rim lock in the top one-third of the door plus a mortice lock in the lower third of the door.
    • Fairly high: as above but with either a standard Yale lock instead of the auto deadlocking rim lock or the locks not set apart.
  • Accessible windows:
    • High: double glazed windows with key locks
    • Fairly high: double glazed windows without key locks

Self-reported health

How is your health in general? Is it…

  • very good
  • good
  • fair
  • bad
  • very bad

Serious condensation or mould see damp and mould

Shared ownership scheme

An affordable housing scheme where the purchaser pays for an initial share of between 25% and 75% of the home’s value with the option to increase their ownership if they later choose and can afford to do so. The registered provider owns the remaining share and rent is paid on the landlord’s share. The rent is up to 3% of the share’s value. Shared ownership properties are always leasehold homes.

Sheltered accommodation

Accommodation for a Household Reference Person or partner aged 55 or over where a warden or manager is available to help residents if needed (note: warden/manager may or may not live on site).

Size of dwelling

The total usable internal floor area of the dwelling as measured by the surveyor, rounded to the nearest square metre. It includes integral garages and integral balconies but excludes stores accessed from the outside only, the area under partition walls and the stairwell area.

Social HomeBuy

Social HomeBuy is a voluntary scheme introduced in April 2006 and allows eligible tenants of registered providers (both local authorities and private registered providers) who participate in the scheme and who occupy eligible properties to purchase their social or affordable rented housing at discount either outright or on shared ownership terms. Tenants receive a discount on the initial share purchased and on any additional shares they buy. This is equivalent to the Right to Acquire discount (between £9,000 and £16,000, depending upon the local authority area in which the property is located) pro-rata to the share purchased.

Social housing

Sections 68 to 71 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 defines social housing for the purposes of regulating social landlords as low-cost rental and low-cost homeownership accommodation. The 2008 Act refers to accommodation at rents below market rates and let to people whose needs are not adequately served by the commercial housing market.

Under section 70(2) of the 2008 Act, low-cost home ownership is defined as incorporating shared ownership, equity percentage arrangements and shared ownership trusts. As with low-cost rented housing, these dwellings must be “made available to people whose needs are not adequately served by the commercial housing market” to qualify as social housing.

Social housing rents

Most social housing rents are calculated according to ‘rent restructuring’ policy, introduced in 2001. The overall intention of the policy was that similar properties in similar areas should have similar levels of rents. The formula calculates rents for each individual property based on 30% of the relative property values at 1999 levels, 70% on relative local earnings and the size of the property. The formula rent had been increased annually at the rate of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation at the previous September + 0.5% until 2015-16 when it was increased by Consumer Price Inex (CPI) +1%.

In 2012, the government introduced Affordable Rent as another main type of social housing rents, which can be set at up to 80% of the market rate of the property, inclusive of service charges. Between 2016-17 and 2019-20, social housing rents will be reduced by 1% a year, for 4 years except from supported housing, almshouses, community land trusts and fully mutual housing co-ops which will be excepted during the first year.

There is also a different arrangement for rents for intermediate rent properties (which falls within the statutory definition of social housing).

Social rent

Affordable housing that is rented at social housing rents, usually owned and managed by local authorities and private registered providers, for which target rents are determined through the national rent regime (see social housing rents). It may also include rented housing, managed by other persons and provided under equivalent rental arrangements to the above.

Socio-economic groups

The English Housing Survey uses the 8-class version of the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC). The 8 classes are:

  • Higher managerial and professional occupations
  • Lower managerial and professional occupations
  • Intermediate occupations (clerical, sales, service)
  • Small employers and own account workers
  • Lower supervisory and technical occupations
  • Semi-routine occupations
  • Routine occupations
  • Never worked or long-term unemployed

No English Housing Survey respondent is assigned to the last class because the survey does not collect enough information to code to someone as never worked or long-term unemployed.

Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP)

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is the methodology used by the government to assess and compare the energy and environmental performance of dwellings. The SAP is used to calculate the energy efficiency rating (EER) of dwellings, also known as the SAP rating. The EER is an index based on calculated energy costs for a standard heating regime and is expressed on a scale of 1 (highly inefficient) to 100 (highly efficient with 100 representing zero energy cost). It is possible for a dwelling to have a rating of over 100 where it produces more energy than it consumes, although such dwellings will be rare within the English housing stock.

Reduced Data SAP (RdSAP) was introduced in 2005 as a lower cost method of assessing the energy performance of existing dwellings. RdSAP is used in the calculation of the energy ratings on the Energy Performance Certificate, a document which is required every time a home is put up for sale or rent. Since the 2015 survey, the EHS has provided a number of indicators on energy performance calculated using an approach which is in line with RdSAP 2012 version 9.92. To ensure that the findings in this report are as compatible as possible with energy performance assessments and certificates issued in England during 2016-17, the energy performance findings presented in published reports of the English Housing Survey are calculated using RdSAP version 9.92.

Start on site

The milestone recording the start of a development scheme, this is deemed to be the date when the contractor takes possession of the site/property and both parties have signed and dated the main building contract. Further, there is an additional condition that start on site works must have commenced. This milestone is used, where appropriate, by Homes England and the Greater London Authority to release the payment of the first tranche of grant funding.

This definition is used for affordable housing starts on site in the Affordable housing supply statistical release. It differs from new build dwelling start (see definition), which is more focused on the individual commencement date of building work on each individual unit on site.

Further details of the more detailed Homes England definition of a start on site are given in the capital funding guide.

Storeys The number of storeys above ground i.e. it does not include any basements.

Substantial disrepair

Standardised basic repair costs of more than £35/m2. Standardised repair costs measure repair costs expressed in pounds per square metre of floor area

Sui generis uses

This is the term used for uses that do not fall into any planning use class. According to the Planning Portal, such uses include: betting offices/shops, pay day loan shops, theatres, larger houses in multiple occupation, hostels providing no significant element of care, scrap yards, petrol filling stations and shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles, retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, launderettes, taxi businesses, amusement centres and casinos.



On the English Housing Survey, households are typically grouped into 3 broad categories known as tenures: owner occupiers, social renters and private renters. The tenure defines the conditions under which the home is occupied, whether it is owned or rented, and if rented, who the landlord is and on what financial and legal terms the let is agreed.

  • owner occupiers: households in accommodation which they either own outright, are buying with a mortgage or as part of a shared ownership scheme.

  • social renters: this category includes households renting from local authorities (including Arms’ Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) and Housing Action Trusts) and housing associations, local housing companies, co-operatives and charitable trusts. A significant number of housing association tenants wrongly report that they are local authority tenants. The most common reason for this is that their home used to be owned by the local authority, and although ownership was transferred to a housing association, the tenant still reports that their landlord is the local authority. There are also some local authority tenants who wrongly report that they are housing association tenants. Data from the EHS for 2008-09 onwards incorporate a correction for the great majority of such cases in order to provide a reasonably accurate split of the social rented category.

  • private renters: this sector covers all other tenants including all whose accommodation is tied to their job. It also includes people living rent-free (for example, people living in a flat belonging to a relative).

Thermal comfort

An assessment from the surveyor as to whether a dwelling has both efficient heating; and effective insulation. Efficient heating is defined as:

  • any gas or oil programmable central heating
  • electric storage heaters; or warm air systems
  • underfloor systems
  • programmable LPG/solid fuel central heating
  • similarly efficient heating systems which are developed in the future

The primary heating system must have a distribution system sufficient to provide heat to 2 or more rooms of the home. There may be storage heaters in 2 or more rooms, or other heaters that use the same fuel in 2 or more rooms.

Because of the differences in efficiency between gas/oil heating systems and the other heating systems listed, the level of insulation that is appropriate also differs:

  • For dwellings with gas/oil programmable heating, cavity wall insulation (if there are cavity walls that can be insulated effectively) or at least 50mm loft insulation (if there is loft space) is an effective package of insulation.

  • For dwellings heated by electric storage heaters/LPG/programmable solid fuel central heating a higher specification of insulation is required: at least 200mm of loft insulation (if there is a loft) and cavity wall insulation (if there are cavity walls that can be insulated effectively).



Households are said to be under-occupying their property if they have 2 or more bedrooms more than the notional number needed according to the bedroom standard definition. See bedroom standard.

Universal Credit

This is a single, means-tested working-age benefit; paid to people whether in work or not. Over time it will replace:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit

For more information, see: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

Urgent repair costs

On the English Housing Survey, these cover urgent work only which is defined as work required in the short term to tackle problems presenting a risk to health, safety, security or further significant deterioration of the building. See Chapter 5, Annex 5 of the EHS Technical report for more information about how these are calculated and the assumptions made.

Usable floor area

The total usable internal floor area of the dwelling as measured by the surveyor, rounded to the nearest square metre. A new modelling approach adopted since the English Housing Survey 2013 profile of English housing report uses assumptions aligned with the Nationally Described Space Standard which was published as part of the Housing Standards Review.

It excludes integral garages, balconies, stores accessed from the outside only and the area under external walls. The area remaining represents the total of all room areas, hallways and circulation space including cupboards and stairs. The area under internal partition walls is also included. Loft space is not included unless the loft is habitable, with a fixed stair in place to access it. Dwellings are also grouped into the following 5 categories:

  • less than 50m2
  • 50 to 69m2
  • 70 to 89m2
  • 90 to 109m2
  • 110m2 or more.

Use categories

Decisions relating to major or minor developments are classified by reference to the principal use within the development (i.e. the use on which other uses are considered to depend). Normally this is the one which accounts for the greater proportion of the new floorspace (although in certain cases the principal use will be one that does not account for any floorspace as such).

If there is any doubt as to the principal use in a multi-storey block, the ground floor use is taken as the principal one. (This rule would apply where, for example, the amounts of floorspace taken up by 2 different uses were approximately equal.) Proposed developments are classified on the basis of the principal use and not that of the complex of which they are part. Thus, a development involving the construction of offices within the curtilage of a general industrial site would be classified as ‘Offices/Research and Development/Light Industry’. Similarly, a dance-floor extension to a restaurant would be classified as ‘All other minor developments’ and not to ‘Retail, distribution and servicing’.


Vacant dwellings (English Housing Survey)

The assessment of whether or not a dwelling is vacant is made at the time of the interviewer’s visit. Clarification of vacancy is sought from neighbours. Both properties in between lets and those that are vacant for a longer period are classified as vacant on the English Housing Survey. Surveyors are required to gain access to vacant dwellings and undertake full inspections.

Vacant dwellings (Council Taxbase)

The source is the Council Taxbase and the series starts in 2004. Prior to this empty homes and second homes were awarded the same discount so there was no incentive for authorities to accurately record empty homes.

  • All vacants (all tenures): All empty homes. Up until April 2013 dwellings undergoing major structural repairs for up to 12 months and those vacant for less than 6 months were eligible for a council tax exemption (Class A and C respectively). In April 2013 these exemptions were replaced with a new flexible discount which applied to all empty properties. Local authorities are now entitled to apply any level of discount from 0% to 100% to all empty properties. Where local authorities award zero discounts for empty properties there is less incentive for owners to report their property as empty. This could have led to some under reporting of some empty properties.

  • All long-term vacants (all tenures): From 2004 to 2012, long-term empty homes are those dwellings which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over 6 months. Up until April 2013 local authorities could use their discretion to award these dwellings a discount of between 0% and 50%. Since April 2013 local authorities can now set that level of discount anywhere between 0% and 100% and can also charge a premium of up to 50% on those properties which have been empty for more than 2 years.


Visitability comprises 4 key features which are considered to be the most important for enabling people with mobility problems to either access their home or visit someone else’s home. These 4 features form the basis for the requirements in Part M of the Building Regulations, although the English Housing Survey cannot exactly mirror the detailed requirements contained there.

  • Level access: For all dwellings with a private or shared plot, there are no steps between the gate/pavement and the front door into the house or block of flats to negotiate. This includes level access to the entrance of the survey module (i.e. a group of flats containing the surveyed flat). Dwellings without a plot are excluded from the analysis as access is, in effect, the pavement/road adjacent to the dwelling.

  • Flush threshold: a wheelchair can be wheeled directly into the dwelling from outside the entrance door with no steps to negotiate and no obstruction higher than 15mm.

  • Sufficiently wide doors and circulation space: the doors and circulation space serving habitable rooms, kitchen, bathroom and WC comply with the requirements of Part M of the Building Regulations.

  • WC at entrance level: there is an inside WC located on the entrance floor to the dwelling.

Each dwelling is classified according to the highest degree of difficulty of the required work, for example, if work to provide a flush threshold is minor but providing a WC at ground floor involves building an extension, the dwelling is classed as requiring major works in order to make it fully visitable.

  • Minor work: no structural alterations required. Costs likely to be under £1,000. Examples include replacing a door and frame to create a flush threshold or installing a ramp for level access.

  • Moderate work: rearrangements of internal space required that will involve removing internal partitions and/or increasing size of doorways. Costs are likely to be in the region of £1,000-£15,000 depending on the size of dwelling and the precise nature of the work. Examples include:

    • internal structural alterations such as using an integral garage, storage cupboard or larder to create a WC at entrance level. This will likely involve partitioning off existing rooms together with associated works to water supplies, wastes and heating.

    • removing some wall partitions (where this does not contravene fire regulations) to create sufficient width for internal doorways or hallways.

  • Major work: building extensions required. Works will be in excess of about £15,000 and the precise amount will depend on the size of the extension to be built, the scale of work to water and drainage services and ground conditions. A home, for example, may require an extension for a downstairs WC.

  • Not feasible: it is not physically possible to carry out the necessary work. For example, this could be due to the physical impossibility of building an extension or installing a ramp up to the front door.


Waiting list

The main route into social housing is through a waiting list which is operated by the local authority. An individual or household must apply for social housing. Applicants are then assessed against rules set individually by each local authority but which by law must give priority to certain types of people, being people in identified housing need. These rules decide whether they qualify to go onto the waiting list and their level of priority.

Wall finishes

The outer layer or skin of the material of the wall structure or any coating applied to it. Wall finishes include:

  • Pointed brickwork: The mortar is placed into a masonry joint after the masonry units (e.g. brick, concrete block or stone) have been laid. This creates a finish to the brickwork and adds resistance to weather.

  • Rendered finish: The application of, for example, premixed cement or pebbledash. The render may or may not be painted.

  • Mixed or other finish: Other types of wall finish include protective and decorative timber, clay or concrete tiles fixed to the wall structure.

Wall types

The method of the dwelling construction, including:

  • Cavity wall: Constructed of 2 brick or block walls separated by a cavity that is at least 50mm wide. They are generally found in houses dating from about 1930 onwards, although some older examples exist. Many dwellings (especially older private sector homes) have a mix of wall types because they have had one or more extensions added at different times. In the English Housing Survey dwellings are only classed as ‘cavity wall’ where at least 50% of the total external wall area is cavity brickwork.

  • Solid wall dwelling: A dwelling whose structure comprises of solid brickwork i.e. no cavity inside the walls. Solid walls were mainly built until the 1930s in England.

  • Timber frame/concrete frame/other concrete/steel frame dwellings: This category covers a wide range of building types, ranging from traditional timber frame buildings to non-traditional concrete or steel frame buildings using ‘systems’ of building focused on speed and economy of construction. They usually use pre-constructed frames of material, e.g. timber, concrete or steel, that are then erected on site. In some cases the frames may be constructed on site. The frames can be clad with other materials or filled to form panels.

  • Masonry walled dwellings: Dwellings with walls constructed by laying individual masonry units (e.g. brick, concrete block or stone). The masonry units are normally laid with cement mortar, which binds them together to create a structure. They can be either cavity or solid wall.

Water heating controls

  • Cylinder thermostat: A thermostat is a device that automatically controls temperature. Thermostats are usually attached to the outsider of the hot water cylinder but can also comprise a diverter valve type arrangement with a thermocouple connected to the tank.

  • Time-clock: A system whereby the water heating is controlled by the same device that controls the central heating or by an independent timer.


Younger households

Households where the oldest person in the household is aged less than 55 years.