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.

PRS households

Chart 1: English Housing Survey (2019-2020): No of households and proportion in PRS

The graph shows that the overall proportion of households who reside in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has fallen slightly to just under 19% of all households in England.

This is the third year in a row this proportion has fallen from its 2016/17 high of just over 20%. This slight decline follows a period of rapid growth over the 20 years previous.

Note the English Housing Survey is a different data set to the Family Resources Survey - which covers the entire UK - so the pattern is slightly different. The key message - a consolidation of the PRS's new position in the housing mix following a period of rapid change - remains the same.

Charts 2-4: Households in the PRS (Source: Family Resources Survey (FRS), 2020)




Northern Ireland

These charts show the recent patterns of household tenure across each of the four Home Nations in comparison to the United Kingdom as a whole.

  • The 1998/99 Family Resources Survey showed that the proportion of households in the PRS was 10% for Great Britain (no figure for Northern Ireland). 
  • In England the proportion of households in the PRS has grown from 11% in 1998/99 to 19% in 2020. In 2017 21% of all households were in the PRS.
  • In Wales growth has been from the same proportion (11%) to a a peak of 19% in 2020. 
  • In Scotland, the proportion of households in the PRS has consistently been below the UK average. In 1998/99, the proportion of households in the PRS was just 7%. So whilst still low, the PRS in Scotland has risen significantly this century.
  • For each of the nations except Wales which has returned to peak levels, the proportion of households in the PRS is now just below a peak level.

Note that each nation now collects its own data on housing volumes. This makes difficult to make long term comparisons across the Union.