English homes are in the worst condition of all European countries, reveals HBF data

Homes in England are less affordable and in worse conditions than those in most other European countries, a new report by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has highlighted.

According to the data, England has the highest proportion of inadequate housing in Europe, with 15% of all existing homes not meeting the Decent Homes Standard, and more substandard homes than Hungary, Poland and Lithuania.

Furthermore, the UK has some of the oldest housing stock in the developed world, with only 7% of British homes built after 2001 — less than other countries, like Spain (18.5%) and Portugal (16%).

England’s severe shortage of housing has also made it the most difficult place in the developed world to find a home, with the lowest rate of available properties per member of the population of all OECD nations.

In addition, the data showed that 11.3 million people in England spend more than 40% on their household income on their home — more than any other country in Europe.

The report blames the current housing crisis on skyrocketing house costs, old housing stock, a shortage of housing and developers being hindered by a restrictive planning system — all of which led to the UK’s rate of home ownership falling from 71% to 65% between 2004 and 2021. 

Over the same period, levels of home ownership grew by nearly 10 percentage points in France and by 15 percentage points in the Netherlands.

Stewart Basely, executive chairman at the HBF, said: “It is widely acknowledged that Britain’s housing is in crisis, but this research shows just how badly we are falling behind our international peers.

“Homebuilders want to be able to deliver new, high-quality, energy-efficient homes which will help solve our country’s housing crisis, and they expanded investment over the past decade.

“Sadly, developers are still too often hampered by a restrictive planning system, an anti-development mindset and short-term politics trumping the needs of communities.

“With an election looming and manifestos being considered, today’s research should act as a wake-up call, demonstrating the urgent need to act now to prevent us falling even further behind.”

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