The Data Observatory

The NRLA Data Observatory is a collection of official and other well-established data sources which when combined, provide a narrative of the Private Rented Sector (PRS). The NRLA tracks approximately 45 key data sets which are updated monthly, quarterly and annually. A selection of these appear in these pages.

Our Deep Insight blog provides a regular extension of the analysis which appears here, as well as those datasets which are not published in the Data Observatory section of this website.

The blog pages also features blog posts from other organisations and academics to provide insight on the PRS. Here you can also find more in-depth summaries of our regular reports and surveys.


Please note that covid-19 has affected the collection and publication of data, particularly data which is collected by local authorities. This means data is not as upto date as usual.  

Lending & housebuilding

Bank lending

Chart 1: Residential & BTL (Buy-to-Let) lending activity

Lending statistics from Bank of England

  • The figures for Quarter 4 2020 show lending activity continuing to rebound following the Covid-19 economic slowdown earlier in the year.  The drop in Q2 from £65bn in quarter 1 to £44bn was clear.  So too has beenthe rebound - Quarter 4 saw the surge in residential loans continue. New residential loans totalled £76.5bn. This is a record - at least since coverage of this data series began in 2010 (note that these figures are unadjusted for inflation. Once adjusted, the figure may not be as high as the peaks in 2018 and 2019, but it is still in the ball park). 
  • Landlord sales as a proportion of lending is falling. This reflects (i) the surge in residential demand lowering the proportion of BTL lending in a growing market (ii) uncertainty among landlords about future trading conditions and legislative framework concerns.
  • Buy-to-Lets (BTL) have accounted for between 12%-15% of lending since 2016 Quarter 2. That is, until this quarter when BTLs accounted for just 11.2% of loans. This is the lowest proportion (on the measure selected from the Bank of England data) since Qtr 4 2012.  


Chart 2: House completions - England

The above chart highlights how crucial the PRS is in the supply of homes.

This chart shows a rebound in hosuing completions during Quarter 3:

  • The volume of total housing completions - 43,000 (approx) in Quarter 3 was x2.5 greater than in Quarter 2 (16,310). 
  • The most recent figure for total housing completions is the largest Quarter 3 number since at least the year 2000 (when NRLA coverage begins). 
  • Disruptions to the project pipeline brought about by the response to Covid-19 during the Spring and early Summer of 2020 will take time to be reflected in the data - especially as there have been subsequent disruption to activity throughout Quarters 3 and 4. 
  • The social housing element in this data series was especially disrupted during Quarter 2 (15.1%).  It fell to levels (proportionate) not seen since the Global Financial Crisis (in 2008, Qtr 2 - 15.2% of housing was identified as social housing) 
  • In the most recent quarter social housing completions rose to 7,800 (18.1% of all completions were for social housing).  This was three times the total in the previous quarter. 

The likely reduced volumes of housing completions in the social housing sector emphasises the need for a healthy PRS to provide housing while the economy recovers post-Coronovirus.    

Chart 3: Housing completions in Wales (Annual data)

The pattern of dwelling completions in Wales shows a combination of: 

Low – and declining – volumes of house completions:

  • The 21st century peak for housing completions in Wales was in 2006/07 (not shown) when housing volumes were just over 9,300 completions for the year: for the last year volume was just 60% of that level.

Low numbers of social housing completions:

  • Though volumes of social housing completions are growingand are actually at a 21st century high, social housing dwellings are being built at a level of just over 1,200 units per annum. 
  • Note that since 2000/01, just 345 local authority built dwellings have been completed in Wales.

Chart 4: Housing completions in Wales (Quarterly data)

The above shows the housing completions data for Wales on a quarterly basis.  StatsWales publishes data on a financial year, rather than calendar year basis.  We have labelled the quarters by months to avoid confusion.  The first quarter is April to Jun and so on.

  • The third quarter of 2019/2020 saw the greatest number of hosuing completions (1,759) since the third quarter of 2016/17 (2,012 housing completions)
  • Quarter 3 was the sixth consecutive quarter social housing accounted for more than 20% of completions.     

Though not shown, the number of private dwellings completed in Wales in the third quarter 2019/2020 (Oct-Dec) was 1,396. This was the highest number of private dwellings completed since the third quarter in 2017/2018.


Please not that because of Covid-19, StatsWales have not been keeping the housing data series presented here up to date.  These are the latest data as of December 2020.