There were 23.9m dwellings in England at March 31, 2017, the latest official figures show, with a fall in the number of private rented sector homes.
The fall suggests that at least some landlords took flight as tax changes either took effect or were announced. It begs the question as to whether more landlords have quit over the last year.
According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the total figure of dwellings in the 12 months to the end of March last year was an increase of 217,000 (0.92%) on the same point in 2016.
Of the 223.9m dwellings, 15.1m were owner-occupied, 4.8m were private rented dwellings and 4m were social and affordable rented dwellings.
Between March 2016 and March 2017, the owner-occupied dwelling stock increased by 262,000.
Notably, however, the private rented stock decreased by 46,000.
The social and affordable rented stock increased by 3,000 dwellings but other public sector stock decreased by 1,000 dwellings.
The statistics also show there were 605,891 vacant dwellings in England on October 2, 2017, an increase of 16,125 (2.7%) from 589,766 on a year earlier.
Vacant dwellings are 2.5% of the dwellings stock.
The latest statistics differ from those published in the English Housing Survey which studies households not dwellings.
The trends are consistent.
The number of owner-occupied dwellings increased between 2014 and 2017 after a period of decline.
The proportion of dwellings in owner-occupation increased steadily from the 1980s to 2002 when it reached its peak of 69.5%.
Since then, owner-occupation gradually declined to level out at 62.4% in 2015 and 2016, increasing slightly to 62.9% in 2017.
This is consistent with the latest figures on households in owner-occupation revealed by the English Housing Survey. These show that owner-occupation rates remain unchanged for the fourth year in a row, for the period 2013/14 to 2016/17).
The number of social and affordable rented dwellings was also up.
However, the decrease in private rented sector dwellings between 2016 and 2017 is interesting.
The fall in the number of private rented sector dwelling – now representing 20% of the total stock – came after previous successive year-on-year increases.
In April 2016, a 3% surcharge was introduced on the purchase of additional properties.
That same year, 2016, it was announced that from the following April there would be a four-year phased-in abolition of landlords’ ability to set financing costs against tax.