Data extracted in May 2020.
Planned article update: June 2021.
A majority of the population in each EU Member State lived in owner-occupied dwellings in 2018, this share ranging from 51.4 % in Germany to 96.4 % in Romania; the EU average was 70.0 %.
In 2018, 17.1 % of the EU population lived in overcrowded dwellings. The highest rate among the Member States was in Romania (46.3 %).
In the EU, 4.3 % of the population experienced severe housing deprivation in 2018.
Among the EU Member States, the housing cost overburden of tenants renting at market prices in 2018 was highest in Greece where 83.1 % of tenants spent more than 40 % of their income on housing.
This article provides an overview of recent statistics on housing in the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, three of the EFTA countries and four candidate 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 considered by many to be a human 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.
Type of dwelling
In 2018, 46.0 % of people in the EU-27 lived in flats, close to one fifth (18.6 %) in semi-detached houses and over one third (34.7 %) in detached houses (see Figure 1).
Among the EU Member States, the proportion of people living in flats in 2018 was at least 60.0 % in Latvia (66.2 %), Spain (64.9 %), Estonia (61.5 %) and Greece (60.6 %), and just below this level in Lithuania (59.5 %); a similarly high proportion of people also lived in flats in Switzerland (62.5 %). The share of people living in detached houses was highest among the EU Member States in Croatia (69.7 %), Slovenia (66.2 %), Romania (65.2 %) and Hungary (64.6 %); Denmark and Poland were the only other Member States where a majority of the population lived in a detached house. North Macedonia (74.6 %), Serbia (63.6 %) and Norway (57.5 %) also reported that high proportions of their populations lived in detached houses. The highest proportions of people living in semi-detached houses in EU Member States were reported in the Netherlands (58.0 %), Ireland (52.1 %), Malta (41.5 %) and Belgium (40.6 %). These were the only Member States where two fifths or more of the population lived in semi-detached houses. In the United Kingdom this share was even higher, reaching 60.8 %.
In 2018, one quarter (24.9 %) of the EU-27 population lived in an owner-occupied home with a mortgage or loan, while more than two fifths (45.1 %) of the population lived in an owner-occupied home without a loan or mortgage (see Figure 2). As such, 7 out of every 10 persons (70.0 %) in the EU-27 lived in owner-occupied dwellings, while around one fifth (20.8 %) were tenants with a market price rent and approximately one tenth (9.3 %) were tenants in reduced-rent or free accommodation.
More than half of the population in each EU Member State lived in owner-occupied dwellings in 2018, ranging from 51.4 % in Germany up to 96.4 % in Romania. By contrast, in Switzerland, the proportion of people who lived in rented dwellings outweighed those living in owner-occupied dwellings, as some 57.5 % of the population were tenants.
In the Netherlands (60.5 %) and Sweden (51.7 %), more than half of the population lived in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage or loan; this was also the case in Iceland (63.9 %, 2016 data) and Norway (60.1 %).
The share of people living in rented dwellings with a market price rent in 2018 was less than 10.0 % in 11 of the EU Member States. By contrast, about two fifths of the population in Germany (40.8 %) and Denmark (39.4 %) lived in rented dwellings with a market price rent, as did more than one third of the population in Sweden (35.0 %), around three tenths of the population in the Netherlands (30.2 %) and Austria (29.7 %), and around one fifth in Luxembourg (23.4 %), Greece (21.3 %) and Belgium (19.4 %). The share of the population that lived in rented dwellings with a market price rent was even higher in Switzerland where it exceeded half (51.1 %).
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 and the eight non-member countries for which data are shown.
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 2018, 17.1 % of the EU-27 population lived in overcrowded dwellings
The highest overcrowding rate among the EU Member States (see Figure 3) was registered in Romania (46.3 %), while rates above 50 % were recorded for Montenegro (57.7 %; 2017 data) and Serbia (53.3 %). Cyprus (2.5 %), Ireland (2.7 %), Malta (3.4 %), the Netherlands (4.1 %) and Spain (4.7 %) recorded the lowest rates of overcrowding, all below 5.0 %, while seven other EU Member States, as well as the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland (2016 data) reported less than 10.0 % of their respective populations living in overcrowded dwellings.
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-27 was 28.9 % in 2018, some 11.8 percentage points above the rate for the whole population (see Figure 3).
The highest overcrowding rates among the population at risk of poverty were registered in Romania (56.4 %), Slovakia (54.9 %), Bulgaria (48.7 %) and Poland (47.7 %). High overcrowding rates among the population at risk of poverty were also reported by Turkey (70.7 %; 2017 data), Montenegro (69.6 %; 2017 data), North Macedonia and Serbia (both 60.6 %). At the other end of the range, the lowest overcrowding rates among people at risk of poverty were recorded on islands, namely in Malta (7.0%), Cyprus (5.2 %) and Ireland (4.2 %). These three were the only EU Member States reporting that fewer than 1 in 10 persons at risk of poverty lived in overcrowded conditions, a situation that was also observed in the United Kingdom (9.8 %).
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 to be too dark — are included in the indicator of housing quality. The severe housing deprivation rate is defined as the percentage of the population living in a dwelling which is considered to be overcrowded, while having at the same time at least one of these aforementioned housing deprivation measures.
Across the EU-27 as a whole, 4.3 % of the population suffered from severe housing deprivation in 2018
There were three EU Member States where at least 1 in 10 of the population faced severe housing deprivation in 2018: Bulgaria recorded a rate of 10.1 %, while there were higher rates in Latvia (14.9 %) and Romania (16.1 %); this situation was also observed in each of the candidate countries for which data (for 2017 or 2018) are shown in Figure 4. By contrast, less than 1.0 % of the population in Finland (0.9 %) and Ireland (0.8 %) faced severe housing deprivation in 2018, as was also the case in Norway.
The overall proportion of people within the EU-27 experiencing severe housing deprivation fell slightly between 2017 and 2018, down 0.2 percentage points. Among the EU Member States, the largest increases in the proportion of people experiencing severe housing deprivation were reported for France, where the rate increased by 0.6 percentage points between 2017 and 2018, as well as Denmark, Germany and Spain, where the rate increased by 0.5 percentage points. By far the largest decrease among EU Member States occurred in Hungary where the rate fell 8.4 percentage points from 15.9 % to 7.5 %, although it should be noted that there is a break in series. Decreases of 1.1 to 1.5 percentage points were observed in Slovakia, Lithuania, Austria, Poland and Romania. A relatively large decrease (down 3.4 percentage points) was also observed in Serbia.
In 2018, 9.6 % of the EU-27 population lived in households that spent 40 % or more of their equivalised disposable income on housing
The proportion of the population whose housing costs exceeded 40 % of their equivalised disposable income was highest for tenants with market price rents (25.1 %) and lowest for persons in owner-occupied dwellings with a loan or mortgage (4.0 %) (see Table 1).
The EU-27 average masks significant differences between the EU Member States: at one extreme there was a number of countries where a relatively small proportion of the population lived in households where housing costs exceeded 40 % of their disposable income in 2018, notably Malta (1.7 %) and Cyprus (2.0 %). At the other extreme, two out of every five persons (39.5 %) in Greece and more than one in six (17.9 %) of the population in Bulgaria spent more than 40 % of their equivalised disposable income on housing, as did around one in seven persons in Denmark (14.7 %) and Germany (14.2 %).
Looking at the tenure status with the highest proportion of the population where housing costs exceeded 40 % of their disposable income, namely tenants with market price rents, there were also large differences between the EU Member States. In 2018, there were six Member States where more than one third of the population living as tenants with market price rents spent more than 40% of their equivalised disposable income on housing, with this proportion of the population exceeding two fifths in Romania (46.3 %) and Hungary (46.9 %), reaching half in Bulgaria (50.1 %) and exceeding four fifths (83.1 %) in Greece. At the other end of the range, Malta (12.1 %), Latvia (11.5 %) and Cyprus (11.3 %) reported the lowest housing cost overburden rates for tenants with market price rents.
Source data for tables and graphs
The data used in this article are primarily derived from micro data from EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). The EU-SILC survey is carried out annually and is the main survey that measures income and living conditions in Europe. 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 data for the EU and the euro area are population-weighted averages of national data.
Tables in this article use the following notation:
|Value in italics||data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;|
|:||not available, confidential or unreliable value.|
Housing conditions influence the quality of life of people in many ways: providing shelter, security, privacy and a space in which to relax, learn, work and live. Housing can also be seen in the context of its local environment, in terms of ease of access to childcare, educational establishments, employment, recreational opportunities, shops, public services and so on. Financing housing, whether purchased or rented, is a major issue for many households, often linked to housing quality.
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 disadvantaged groups enter the housing market, or how to promote energy efficiency among homeowners.
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 people at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
- EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) methodology — housing conditions
- EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) methodology — housing deprivation
- Housing price statistics — house price index
- Living conditions in Europe — housing quality
- Living conditions in Europe — poverty and social exclusion
- Disability statistics — housing conditions
- Young people — housing conditions
- Income poverty statistics
- Quality of life indicators — material living conditions
- 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 (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)
- 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
- Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
- Regulation (EC) No 1553/2005 of 7 September 2005 amending Regulation 1177/2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
- Regulation (EU) No 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
- Summaries of EU Legislation: EU statistics on income and living conditions