Scotland's People Annual Report: Results from 2013 Scottish Household Survey: Revised October 2015

A National Statistics publication for Scotland, providing reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, behaviour and attitudes of Scottish households and adults across a number of topic areas including local government, neighbourhoods, health and transport.

3 Housing


The Scottish Government's desired future state for housing is that ‘All people in Scotland live in high quality sustainable homes that they can afford and that meet their needs’[33]. While the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS)[34] is the primary source of information about the physical condition of housing in Scotland, the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) also includes some questions on housing which are used to explore the relationships between living circumstances and the characteristics, attitudes and behaviours of Scottish households.

This chapter presents some basic information on housing tenure in Scotland, including how tenure has changed since 1999 and how it varies with household type, rurality and deprivation. It also looks at the changing nature of housing tenure based on the length of time people have lived at their current address.

The 2013 SHS contained a new question on housing lists and headline analysis on this topic is also presented. These new estimates provide additional evidence on Housing Lists and complement existing sources. This includes Housing Statistics for Scotland (HSfS), which is scheduled for release on 21 August 2014 and will include statistics on the number of households on a housing list as at 31 March 2014.

Main Findings

  • The private rented sector has shown consistent signs of growth from 5 per cent in 1999 to 13 per cent in 2013
  • The social rented sector has declined from 32 per cent in 1999 to 23 per cent in 2013
  • Owner occupation has dipped from a high of 66 per cent in 2009 to 61 per cent in 2013
  • Over half (55 per cent) of households in the 15 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland were in the social rented sector compared to only 17 per cent in the rest of Scotland. There were around 280,000 adults and 170,000 households on housing waiting lists.


There has been a substantial change in housing tenure in Scotland since the 1960s. The long-term trend has been a marked increase in the proportion of owner-occupier households, from a quarter in 1961[35] to around two thirds in recent years (Figure 3.1). This increase was mirrored by the decline of the private and social rented sector, which in 1961 accounted for 34 per cent and 41 per cent of households, respectively, compared to 13 per cent and 23 per cent in 2013.

Reflecting changes in cultural attitudes toward home ownership, two structural factors have contributed to this shift: the introduction of the right to buy for public authority tenants in 1979 coupled with the decline of public authority new build, and the increased contribution of private sector building.

The short-term trend shown by more recent SHS data indicates that the rising trend in owner-occupation may have hit a peak in the last decade. The first year of SHS data collection showed that in 1999, 61 per cent of households were owner occupied. This proportion then increased towards peak of 66 per cent over the following decade. Since 2010 this trend has reversed and home ownership in 2013 was back at 1999 levels. This is possibly in part due to increasing pressure in the housing market.

Recent years have also seen an increase in the private rented sector from 5 per cent in 1999 to 13 per cent in 2013, while a longer term decrease in the social rented sector has levelled off at around 23 per cent since 2007.

Figure 3.1: Tenure of household by year

1999-2013 data, Households (base: 10,650)

Figure 3.1: Tenure of household by year

Note: Other category includes those living rent free

Table 3.1: Tenure of household by year

Column percentages, 1999-2013 data

Households 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Owner occupied 61 62 64 65 65 64 66 65 66 66 66 65 64 63 61
Social rented 32 30 28 28 26 27 25 25 23 23 22 23 23 23 23
Private rented 5 6 6 6 6 7 8 8 9 9 10 11 11 13 13
Other 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 14,680 15,550 15,570 15,070 14,880 15,940 15,400 15,620 13,410 13,810 14,190 14,210 14,360 10,640 10,650

The decline in social housing has been accompanied by substantial changes in the profile of its tenants. Data from the Scottish Census show that in 1981, the profile of social sector tenants was similar to the profile of households in society generally in terms of their size, composition, and social and economic characteristics. This is no longer the case and tenure patterns show marked differences by household type.

Table 3.2 shows that owner occupation was the predominant tenure for most household types, the notable exception being for single parent households and, to a somewhat lesser extent, single adult households. Around half of single parent households were in social housing (48 per cent), which was the predominant tenure for this group. Single adult and pensioner households were both also somewhat overrepresented in the social sector relative to other groups (each 31 each). There were higher proportions of single adult (23 per cent), small adult and single parent (each 22 per cent) households in the private rented sector compared to other household types.

Table 3.2: Tenure of household by household type[36],[37]

Column percentages, 2013 data

Households Single adult Small adult Single parent Small family Large family Large adult Older smaller Single pensioner All
Owner occupied 42 61 28 71 67 70 81 62 61
Social rented 31 16 48 16 23 18 14 31 23
Private rented 23 22 22 13 9 10 3 3 13
Other 4 1 2 1 2 2 2 3 2
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,860 1,690 590 1,350 630 970 1,770 1,810 10,650

Figure 3.2 and Table 3.3 demonstrate the strong relationship between housing tenure and deprivation. The 15 per cent most deprived areas were characterised by high concentrations of social housing, with just over half (55 per cent) of the households in these areas in the social rented sector; compared to 17 per cent in the Rest of Scotland. The relationship is displayed graphically in Figure 3.2, which shows how levels of social renting increase with increasing deprivation and also how conversely, owner occupation increases as deprivation decreases.

Figure 3.2: Tenure by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)

2013 data (Base: 10,650; minimum: 910)

Figure 3.2: Tenure by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)

Table 3.3: Tenure of household by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation[39]

Column percentages, 2013 data

Households 15% most deprived Rest of Scotland All
Owner occupied 33 67 61
Social rented 55 17 23
Private rented 9 14 13
Other 3 2 2
Total 100 100 100
Base 1,530 9,120 10,650

Tenure also varied between urban and rural areas, although this was somewhat less marked (Table 3.4). There were however notable differences between large urban areas and Scotland as a whole, with large urban areas having lower levels of owner occupation (55 per cent) and higher levels of private renting (17 per cent).

Table 3.4: Tenure of household by Urban Rural Classification[40]

Column percentages, 2013 data

Households Large urban areas Other urban areas Accessible small towns Remote small towns Accessible rural Remote rural All
Owner occupied 55 62 65 60 73 71 61
Social rented 25 25 25 26 13 14 23
Private rented 17 11 9 11 11 11 13
Other 3 1 2 2 3 4 2
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 3,570 3,230 970 650 1,150 1,080 10,650

There was a clear link between tenure and length of stay at address and this is demonstrated in Table 3.5. There is evidence that those in the private rented sector stay at an address for a short period of time when compared with other tenures. Owner occupiers in particular were likely to stay at an address for a long period of time, with over half of adults living in this tenure having stayed at their current address for more than 10 years.

There is further evidence in Figure 3.3 which suggests an increase in the average number of years that owner occupiers have stayed at their current address (from just over 14 years in 2007 to around 16 years in 2013). This could be linked to increasing pressures on the housing market.

Table 3.5: Tenure of household by how long lived at current address[41],[42]

Row percentages, 2013 data

Adults Less than one year 1 to 2 years 3 to 4 years 5 to 10 years More than 10 years Total Base
Owner occupied 5 7 7 24 57 100 6,250
Social rented 13 14 14 22 37 100 2,300
Private rented 40 30 14 10 6 100 1,160
Other 21 11 10 14 44 100 210
All 12 11 9 22 46 100 9,920

Figure 3.3: Average number of years at current address by tenure

Figure 3.3: Average number of years at current address by tenure


The number of people on housing lists helps provide an indication of the demand for social housing. In Scotland anyone over the age of 16 has the right to be admitted to a housing list. However there is no test of particular housing need at this stage and housing lists are therefore indicators of demand and not necessarily of housing need.

Housing lists are held by social landlords, local authorities and housing associations, individually or jointly as Common Housing Registers. They can include people who are already in social housing but are seeking a move and in some cases applicants will be on more than one landlord’s list. Social landlords are responsible for allocating their housing, in line with their allocation policies and the legislative framework.

The Housing (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 June 2014. Provisions in the Bill are intended to support social landlords to allocate and manage their housing in a way which balances the variety of housing needs in their area and give local communities a greater say in who gets priority for housing.

A new question on housing lists was introduced to the Scottish Household Survey in 2013. This question was asked in the random adult part of the SHS interview[43] and as demonstrated in Table 3.6, it found that six per cent of adults were on at least one housing list (Council, Registered Social Landlord (RSL) or Common Housing Register (CHR)), while two per cent of respondents refused to answer or did not know whether they were on a housing list.

Housing lists are reported in other sources as the total number of adults or households on waiting lists rather than as percentages. We can do this here by multiplying the percentages that we have calculated by estimates of the adult population[44]. This provides an estimate of 280,000 adults in Scotland on housing lists. It is important to acknowledge that this estimate does not include children and that where an adult is responsible for a child, the child will effectively also be on a housing list.

Table 3.6: Adults on housing lists

Column percentages and population estimates, 2013 data

Adults Percentage Adults
No, not on a housing list 92 4,060,000
Yes, on a housing list 6 280,000
Don't know/refused 2 80,000
Total 100 4,416,021
Base 9,920 9,920

Housing list statistics are more commonly reported on in terms of the number of households on waiting lists rather than the number of adults. Table 3.7 shows that 7 per cent of households were on a housing waiting list and this equates to 170,000 households.

This estimate has been calculated based on responses from the random adult but weighted to make it representative of households and then in the same way as with adults, grossed up to household estimates[45]. This methodology is likely to slightly under-estimate the true figure and also makes assumptions which are discussed in the Glossary (Annex 2).

Table 3.7: Households on housing lists

Column percentages and household estimates

Households Percentage Households
No, not on a housing list 91 2,170,000
Yes, on a housing list 7 170,000
Don't know/refused 2 40,000
Total 100 2,386,207
Base 9,920 9,920

Other sources of housing list statistics

Housing list statistics are also reported in Housing Statistics for Scotland (HSfS)[46], which reports that there were 184,887 applicants on Local Authority or Common Housing Register housing waiting or transfer lists as at 31st March 2013, compared with 170,000 from the SHS. This figure will include some double counting of applicants who are on multiple housing lists. However, it also excludes six Local Authorities (including Glasgow) which have transferred all of their social housing stock to Housing Associations. The next release of Housing Statistics for Scotland (HSfS) is scheduled for release on 21 August 2014 and will include statistics on the number of households on a housing list as at 31 March 2014.

Housing lists statistics are also available from an Ipsos MORI Omnibus Survey[47] conducted in 2010 and 2011, which reported 144,000 and 128,000 households respectively on waiting lists. The questions asked in this survey were more detailed than the question asked in the SHS and more detailed information around current and previous experiences of households on housing lists. The Ipsos MORI results were based on sample sizes of around 1,000 adults, so they are less reliable than the SHS results.


Email: Andrew Craik

Back to top