- Data extracted in November 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: November 2016.
This article provides an overview of recent statistics on housing in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries, focusing on dwelling types, tenure status (owning or renting a property), housing quality and affordability.
Decent housing, at an affordable price in a safe environment, is a fundamental need and right. Ensuring this need is met, which is likely to alleviate poverty and social exclusion, is still a significant challenge in a number of European countries.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
Type of dwelling
In 2014, 4 out of every 10 persons in the EU-28 lived in flats, just over one quarter (25.6 %) in semi-detached houses and just over one third (33.7 %) in detached houses (see Figure 1). The proportion of people living in flats was highest, among the EU Member States, in Spain (66.5 %), Latvia (65.1 %) and Estonia (63.8 %; 2013 data), while the highest proportions of people living in semi-detached houses were reported in the Netherlands (61.2 %), the United Kingdom (60.0 %) and Ireland (58.3 %; 2013 data).The share of people living in detached houses peaked in Croatia (72.6 %), Slovenia (65.4 %) and Hungary (63.0 %); Norway (62.4 %) and Serbia (60.5 %; 2013 data) also reported high shares of their populations living in detached houses.
In 2014, over one quarter (27.1 %) of the EU-28 population lived in an owner-occupied home for which there was an outstanding loan or mortgage, while more than two fifths (43.0 %) of the population lived in an owner-occupied home without a loan or mortgage. As such, 7 out of every 10 (70.1 %) persons in the EU-28 lived in owner-occupied dwellings, while 19.1 % were tenants with a market price rent, and 10.8 % were tenants in reduced-rent or free accommodation.
More than half of the population in each EU Member State (see Figure 2) lived in owner-occupied dwellings in 2014, ranging from 52.4 % in Germany up to 96.1 % in Romania. As such, none of the EU Member States recorded a share of tenants that was higher than the share of people living in owner-occupied dwellings. By contrast, in Switzerland (2013 data), the proportion of people who lived in rented dwellings outweighed those living in owner-occupied dwellings, as some 56.0 % of the population were tenants. In Sweden (61.3 %) and the Netherlands (59.2 %) more than half of the population lived in owner-occupied dwellings with an outstanding loan or mortgage; this was also the case in Norway (65.6 %) and Iceland (62.9 %; 2013 data).
The share of people living in rented dwellings with a market price rent in 2014 was less than 10.0 % in 11 of the EU Member States (data for Estonia are for 2013). By contrast, close to two fifths of the population in Germany (39.6 %) lived in rented dwellings with a market price rent as did close to one third of the population in Denmark (36.6 %), the Netherlands (32.6 %) and Sweden (30.4 %), more than one quarter in Austria (27.2 %), and one fifth or more in Luxembourg (22.0 %) and Greece (20.0 %). The share of the population that lived in rented dwellings with a market price rent was even higher in Switzerland where it reached 51.8 % (2013 data). The share of the population living in a dwelling with a reduced price rent or occupying a dwelling free of charge was less than 20.0 % in all of the EU Member States.
One of the key dimensions in assessing the quality of housing is the availability of sufficient space in a dwelling. The overcrowding rate describes the proportion of people living in an overcrowded dwelling, as defined by the number of rooms available to the household, the household’s size, as well as its members’ ages and their family situation.
In 2014, 17.1 % of the EU-28 population lived in overcrowded dwellings (see Figure 3); the highest overcrowding rates among the EU Member States were registered in Romania (52.3 %), Hungary (44.6 %), Poland (44.2 %), Bulgaria (43.3 %) and Croatia (42.1 %), while rates above 50 % were also recorded for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (both 2013 data). By contrast, Belgium (2.0 %), Cyprus (2.2 %), Ireland (2.8 %; 2013 data), the Netherlands (3.5 %) and Malta (4.0 %) recorded the lowest rates of overcrowding, while seven other EU Member States as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland (2013 data for the latter two) all reported less than 10.0 % of their respective populations living in overcrowded dwellings.
The largest increases between 2013 and 2014 in the share of the population living in overcrowded dwellings were reported by Latvia, the Netherlands, Austria and Luxembourg, their shares rising by at least 0.5 percentage points. By contrast, the overcrowding rate declined in 15 of the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (no data for Estonia or Ireland). Reductions between 2013 and 2014 were larger than 1.0 percentage points in Portugal, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Denmark.
Within the population at risk of poverty (in other words, people living in households where equivalised disposable income per person was below 60 % of the national median), the overcrowding rate in the EU-28 was 30.3 % in 2014, some 13.2 percentage points above the rate for the whole population. The highest overcrowding rates among the population at risk of poverty were registered in Hungary (67.4 %), Romania (66.6 %) and Poland (62.4 %), while more than half of all persons at risk of poverty in Slovakia and Bulgaria also lived in overcrowded dwellings; in 2013, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (63.1 %) and Serbia (62.3 %) also reported high overcrowding rates among their populations at risk of poverty. At the other end of the range, the lowest overcrowding rates for those at risk of poverty were recorded in Cyprus (4.6 %), Ireland (4.9 %; 2013 data), Malta (8.7 %) and Belgium (8.9 %); these were the only EU Member States to report that fewer than 1 in 10 persons at risk of poverty were living in overcrowded conditions (see Figure 3), although this was also the case in Switzerland (9.5 %; 2013 data).
In addition to overcrowding, some other aspects of housing deprivation — such as the lack of a bath or a toilet, a leaking roof in the dwelling, or a dwelling considered as being too dark — are taken into account to build a more complete indicator of housing quality. The severe housing deprivation rate is defined as the proportion of persons living in a dwelling which is considered as being overcrowded, while having at the same time at least one of these aforementioned housing deprivation measures.
Across the EU-28 as a whole, 5.1 % of the population suffered from severe housing deprivation in 2014 (see Figure 4). There were five EU Member States where more than 1 in 10 of the population faced severe housing deprivation in 2014, with the share rising to 16.6 % in Latvia, 18.1 % in Hungary and peaking at more than one in five persons (21.4 %) in Romania. By contrast, less than 1.0 % of the population in Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands faced severe housing deprivation in 2014. The overall proportion of people within the EU-28 experiencing severe housing deprivation fell by 0.1 percentage points between 2013 and 2014. The largest increase in the proportion of people experiencing severe housing deprivation was reported by Lithuania, up 1.0 percentage points between 2013 and 2014. The largest decreases occurred in Romania, Croatia, Poland and Greece, where the severe housing deprivation rate fell by at least 1.0 percentage points.
In 2014, an 11.4 % share of the EU-28 population lived in households that spent 40 % or more of their equivalised disposable income on housing (see Table 1). The proportion of the population whose housing costs exceeded 40 % of their equivalised disposable income was highest for tenants with market price rents (27.1 %) and lowest for persons in owner-occupied dwellings without a loan or mortgage (6.8 %).
The EU-28 average masks significant differences between Member States: at one extreme there were a number of countries where a relatively small proportion of the population lived in households where housing costs exceeded 40 % of their disposable income, notably Malta (1.6 %), Cyprus (4.0 %), Ireland (4.9 %; 2013 data), Finland and France (both 5.1 %). At the other extreme, around just over two out of every five people (40.7 %) in Greece and just under one in six of the population in Germany (15.9 %), Denmark (15.6 %) and the Netherlands (15.4 %) spent more than 40 % of their equivalised disposable income on housing.
Data sources and availability
The data used in this article are primarily derived from microdata from EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). The reference population is all private households and their current members residing in the territory of an EU Member State at the time of data collection; persons living in collective households and in institutions are generally excluded from the target population. The EU-28 aggregate is a population-weighted average of individual national figures.
Note: at the time of data extraction (November 2015), there was no information available for reference year 2014 for Estonia or Ireland. As such, the EU and euro area aggregates that are presented for 2014 are estimates.
The EU does not have any specific responsibilities with respect to housing; rather, national governments develop their own housing policies. Nevertheless, many of the EU Member States face similar challenges: for example, how to renew housing stocks, how to plan and combat urban sprawl, how to promote sustainable development, how to help young and disadvantage groups to get into the housing market, or how to promote energy efficiency among homeowners.
As such, questions of social housing, homelessness or integration play an important role within the EU’s social policy agenda. The charter of fundamental rights stipulates in Article IV-34 that ‘in order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices’. Within this context, a European Council meeting in Nice in 2000, reached an agreement on a set of common objectives for the EU’s strategy against poverty and social exclusion, including two objectives related to housing, namely ‘to implement policies which aim to provide access for all to decent and sanitary housing, as well as basic services necessary to live normally having regard to local circumstances (electricity, water, heating, etc.)’ and ‘to put in place policies which seek to prevent life crises, which can lead to situations of social exclusion, such as indebtedness, exclusion from school and becoming homeless.’ This remit was extended in 2010 when the European platform against poverty and social exclusion (COM(2010) 758 final) set out a series of actions to help reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 20 million persons by 2020 (compared with 2008) — see also the article on social inclusion statistics.
- Housing conditions
- Housing price statistics - house price index
- Income distribution statistics
- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion
- Quality of life in Europe - facts and views - material living conditions
Further Eurostat information
- Quality of life - Facts and views — Statistical books
- Living conditions in Europe — 2014 Edition — Statistical books
- European social statistics (2013) — Statistical books
- Housing conditions in Europe (2009) — Statistics in focus 4/2011
- Income and living conditions (t_ilc), see
- Living conditions (t_ilc_lv)
- Housing conditions (t_ilc_lvho)
- Overcrowding rate (t_ilc_lvho_or)
- Housing cost burden (t_ilc_lvho_hc)
- Housing conditions (t_ilc_lvho)
- Material deprivation (t_ilc_md)
- Housing deprivation (t_ilc_mdho)
- Living conditions (t_ilc_lv)
- Income and living conditions (ilc), see
- Living conditions (ilc_lv)
- Housing conditions (ilc_lvho)
- Overcrowding rate (ilc_lvho_or)
- Under-occupied dwellings (ilc_lvho_uo)
- Housing cost burden (ilc_lvho_hc)
- Housing conditions (ilc_lvho)
- Material deprivation (ilc_md)
- Housing deprivation (ilc_mdho)
- Living conditions (ilc_lv)
Methodology / Metadata
- Income and living conditions (ESMS metadata file — ilc_esms)
- The production of data on homelessness and housing deprivation in the European Union: survey and proposals — 2005
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Regulation 1177/2003 of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
- Regulation 1553/2005 of 7 September 2005 amending Regulation 1177/2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
- Regulation 1791/2006 of 20 November 2006 adapting certain Regulations and Decisions in the fields of ... statistics, ..., by reason of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania
- Regulation 1157/2010 of 9 December 2010 implementing Regulation 1177/2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC), as regards the 2012 list of target secondary variables on housing conditions
- European Commission — Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion — synthesis report: peer review on sustainable ways of preventing homelessness (2014)
- European Commission — Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion — Employment and social developments in Europe (2013)
- European Commission — Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion — Employment and social situation quarterly review — September 2013
- European Commission — Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion — Homelessness
- OECD — Housing
- United Nations — Housing and its environment
- WHO — Housing