Housing conditions in EU27 in 2009: Only 3% of Irish population live in flats/apartments compared with 65% in Spain
By Finfacts Team
Feb 24, 2011 - 3:16 PM

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Housing conditions in EU27 in 2009: Only 3% of Irish population live in flats/apartments compared with 65% in Spain while 13% of Irish households had a leaky roof, according to a report published on Wednesday.

The 2009 annual report of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said that despite the Irish housing boom, Ireland still had worse housing conditions than other countries with similar living standards, with floor areas per person of around a fifth less than the western European average, even though a large number of dwellings  are detached houses.

RICS said the general type of housing built is land intensive and standardised in form. This leads to spread-out suburbs, both around Dublin and in other growth areas further afield. This urban form gives rise to long commuting journeys on a frequently overstretched infrastructure network. Land supply constraints near the major cities have been encouraging spread out development and reports have called for a more economically and environmentally sustainable living pattern.

RICS cited a report by the UK’s Policy Exchange think tank, which has argued that the Irish planning system creates too many ‘starter homes’, of often mediocre quality on monotonous estates, and allows insufficient quantities of larger, better quality properties. The lack of better properties has fuelled house price inflation, it argues, so that the high headline housebuilding figures give a misleading picture of the true supply situation.

In the EU27, housing conditions differ considerably between member countries. These differences can be seen both in the type of housing in which people live and in the housing problems they encounter. On average in the EU27 in 2009, 42% of the population lived in a flat, 34% in a detached house and 23% in a semi-detached or terraced house. Of the EU27 population, 18% lived in an overcrowded dwelling, while 16% lived in a dwelling where a leaking roof or damp were perceived as a problem, 7% considered their dwelling to be too dark, 4% had no indoor flushing toilet and 3% no bath or shower.

These figures on housing conditions are published in a report published Wednesday, by Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union.

Across the member countries, flats most common in Latvia, detached houses in Slovenia and semi-detached houses in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

The type of dwelling in which people live varies greatly between member countries: in twelve member countries, detached houses are the most common type of dwelling, in ten flats and in five semi-detached or terraced houses.

In 2009, over half of the population lived in flats in Latvia (66%), Estonia and Spain (both 65%), Lithuania (58%), Greece (56%), the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy (all 53%), in detached houses in Slovenia (69%), Hungary (68%), Romania (61%), Denmark (58%) and Sweden (51%), and in semi-detached or terraced houses in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (both 61%) as well as Ireland (58%).

Between 1% of the population in Cyprus and 58% in Latvia live in an overcrowded dwelling

Overcrowding depends upon the relation between the number of persons in a household and the number of rooms in each dwelling3. In 2009, the share of persons living in an overcrowded dwelling ranged widely between member countries, from 1% in Cyprus, 2% in the Netherlands, 3% in Spain and 4% in Ireland, Belgium and Malta to 58% in Latvia, 55% in Romania and Hungary, 49% in Poland and Lithuania and 47% in Bulgaria.

One person in six lives in a dwelling where a leaking roof or damp is a problem

Housing conditions can also be analysed through the problems of damp, darkness or the availability of sanitary equipment. The proportion of the population living in a dwelling where they declared there was a problem with a leaking roof or damp in the walls ranged from 5% in Finland, 7% in Slovakia and Sweden and 8% in Denmark to 31% in Slovenia, 29% in Cyprus, 26% in Latvia and 24% in Bulgaria.

The share of the population living in a dwelling where darkness was considered to be a problem varied from 4% in Slovakia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Finland to 16% in Slovenia, 11% in Latvia and the United Kingdom.

There were significant differences between member countries when considering the sanitary equipment of dwellings. The share of persons living in dwellings with no indoor flushing toilet ranged from less than 1% in 15 member countries to 43% in Romania, 26% in Bulgaria and 17% in Lithuania and Latvia. The proportion of the population living in dwellings with no bath or shower ranged from less than 1% in 17 member countries to 41% in Romania, 18% in Latvia and 16% in Lithuania and Bulgaria.

Nearly three quarters of the EU population were living in owner-occupied dwellings

In 2009, 73.5% of the EU-27 population owned their homes, and 36.9% of the owners had a mortgage or a housing loan. In all countries at least half of the population owned their homes, with figures ranging from 57.5 % in Austria to 96.5 % in Romania.

Only 1.2% of the owners had a mortgage in Romania, followed by Slovakia (8.0%), Poland (8.3%) and Slovenia (8.5 %). In contrast more than 80% of owners had a mortgage in Sweden, the Netherlands and Iceland.

Among tenants (26.5% of the EU-27 population), 49.1% were paying rent at a market rate, and 50.9% were paying a reduced-rate rent or were living rent-free. At country level, one extreme was represented by Poland and Malta, with less than 10% of tenants paying market price rent, and the other by Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, with more than 95% of tenants paying market-price rent.

Leaking roofs, damp or rot in window frames were the most frequent problems

Eurostat says housing quality can also be judged by the availability of certain basic sanitary facilities in  the dwelling (such as a bath or shower or indoor flushing toilet) and by the general condition of the dwelling (whether the roof leaks or the dwelling is perceived as too dark). At EU level 15.9% of the population deemed a ‘leaking roof’ to be a problem. Darkness in the dwelling was considered as a problem by 7.3% of people in the EU, while less than 4 % lacked basic sanitary facilities.

Over one fourth of the population in Latvia, Cyprus and Slovenia was living in a dwelling where a ‘leaking roof’ was considered as a problem. The lowest figures here were recorded in the Nordic countries: Finland (4.9 %), Sweden (6.6%) and Denmark (7.8 %), as well as in Slovakia (6.6%).

Among the various housing deprivation items, a ‘leaking roof’ was the most frequent problem in all countries except Bulgaria and Romania (lack of flushing toilet).

In 18 member countries and in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland less than 1% of the population had no bath, shower or flushing toilet in the dwelling. At the other extreme, more than 40% of people in Romania had no bath or shower, or no indoor flushing toilet (41.2% and 42.5% respectively), followed by Bulgaria (15.6% and 26.2 % respectively) and the Baltic States (all three over 10% for both indicators).

Darkness in the dwelling was considered as a problem primarily in Slovenia (15.5 %), Latvia (10.9%) and the United Kingdom (10.6%).

EU citizens tend to live more in houses rather than flats

In 2009, 41.7% of the EU population lived in flats, 34.3 % in detached houses and 23.0 % in semi-detached houses. A detached house is defined as a house which has no common walls with another one, while a semi-detached house shares at least one wall (this category covers also terraced houses). The percentages of persons living in flats ranged from 3.1 % in Ireland, 7.3% in Norway and 14.2 % in the United Kingdom to over 60% in Spain, Estonia and Latvia. The percentage of people living in detached houses was greatest in Slovenia (68.7%), Hungary (67.6%), Norway (62.6%), Romania (60.7%) and Denmark (58.4 %), while semi-detached houses were most popular in the Netherlands (61.4%), the United Kingdom (60.9%) and Ireland (57.6%).

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