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SHARING HOUSING: CHOICE, CONSTRAINT, HISTORY AND POLICY Becky Tunstall Director of the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York Collaborative Housing.

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Presentation on theme: "SHARING HOUSING: CHOICE, CONSTRAINT, HISTORY AND POLICY Becky Tunstall Director of the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York Collaborative Housing."— Presentation transcript:

1 SHARING HOUSING: CHOICE, CONSTRAINT, HISTORY AND POLICY Becky Tunstall Director of the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York Collaborative Housing and Community Resilience ESRC workshop University of Newcastle, December 2014 01904 321 475

2 Introduction Some people want to share housing but can’t (finance problems, problems finding/buying/building right housing, finding the right people) Some people share housing but don’t want to (finance problems, wrong housing, wrong people) This issue combines crude economics, public policy, social norms and the subtlety of individuals and their personal relationships…

3 Questions 1.How much shared housing is there? 2.What are the trends over time? 3.How much sharing is chosen - and how much is accepted as 2nd best - or worse? 4.What is housing policy doing? 5.The sharing economy and the example of AirBnB 6.Where does co-housing fit in?

4 1. How much ‘shared’ housing is there? ‘Communal establishments’ 2% of all people (England 2011) Prison, medical, care, schools, military, religious communities, hostels, hotels, BnBs 14,243 people (under 0.1%) in communal establishments in ‘Other other’ category – may include communes, co-ops, cohousing…

5 (Private) household: 2011 - people (not necessarily related) living at the same private address who share cooking facilities and share a living room/sitting room/dining area (ONS 2014a) 98% of all people in private households (England 2011) NB May share space but not much time: Pre-2011 - one person living alone or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address with common housekeeping – that is sharing either a living room or sitting room or at least one meal a day

6 Sharing of dwelling within households (England 2011): 30.2% households have just one person 69.8% ‘households’ have more than one resident 3.0% households have multiple adults (not couple, or in addition to couple/s) 1.8% households contain a concealed ‘family’ (England and Wales) 0.6% households are multi-student

7 ‘Concealed households’ - involve at least 2 people; a “[family] living in a multi-family household in addition to the primary family, such as a young couple living with parents” (ONS 2014d) 0.29m concealed households in England and Wales in 2011 Nearly half were couples; also lone parents; generally young Assumed to be the product of constraint - “statistics on concealed families are often used as an indicator of housing demand” (ONS 2014d p2)

8 ‘Overcrowding’ Sharing of dwelling between ‘too many’ people Measured by ‘bedroom standard’ 9% of households below standard (England 2011) ‘Undercrowding’? Not enough sharing - or potential for more? 69.1% of households 1 bedroom + above standard (England 2011)

9 2. What are the trends over time?

10 ‘Overcrowding’ fell dramatically 1911-2001 Percentage of people in households with less than one room per person, England and Wales

11 And the recent trends? 2001-2011:  10% increase in number of communal establishment residents (England) - but ‘Other other type’ reduced by 80% from 73,000 people to 14,000 (England)  70% increase in number of concealed families (England and Wales) (6.6 per cent increase in other families) (ONS 2014d)  30% increase in percentage of households overcrowded (from 7% to 9% of households) below standard (England)

12 3. How much sharing is chosen and how much is just tolerated? Note - Attempts to reduce sharing - of space within households (‘overcrowding’) of dwellings between households of amenities between households - have dominated the history of housing policy for over a century. Sharing generally assumed by policy-makers and lobbyists to be: Unhealthy Morally dangerous Unchosen.

13 “great fok… when they dunnot agree, for that their tempers is ill-sorted, they has rooms o’ one kind an another in their houses, above a bit, and they can live asunders. We fok ha’ only one room, an we can’t” - Hard Times, Charles Dickens, 1854, chapter 11 “A room one one’s own” - title of essay, Virginia Woolf, 1929

14 ‘Choice’ may depend on norms: Means, medians, social norms and standards on sharing Eg Sharing space within a household Norm: Median: 2 rooms per person (including living rooms; eat-in kitchens) (Tunstall 2015fc) Norm: ‘Consensual’ standard (Bradshaw et al. 2008): Pensioner couple ‘should have’ 2 bedrooms - bedroom standard +1 All children ‘should have’ own room - probably above bedroom standard Policy standard: The 1960 ‘bedroom standard’ is: used in current social housing Housing Benefit policy 2012-: “now generally accepted as being completely unacceptable” (ODPM 2004 npn)

15 4. What is housing policy doing? Structural problems have renewed pressure for unchosen sharing (and reduced opportunities for chosen sharing) An assessment of English housing policy 1975-2000 found strategic weaknesses: Housing quality, choice and wealth had increased markedly, but Demand ran ahead of supply, affordability problems, tenure and spatial polarisation, fragmentation of governance, and individual and systemic risk with potential knock-on effects for the economy (Stephens et al. 2005).

16 The Coalition govt agrees: Cameron and Clegg: housing system “dysfunctional” (HM Govt 2011) “Buyers can’t buy… lenders aren’t lending enough… builders are not building… investors are not investing… affordable housing can do more… tenants are struggling” (ibid pvi). Prisk: “persistent market failure” (Prisk 2012).

17 Coalition housing policy 2010- The Coalition described its housing strategy as a “perfect example” of its approach to policy (HM Government 2011 pv). Housing goals were subordinate to or a means to achieve economic policy goals: “We need to get the housing market… moving again. This is central for our plans for economic growth” (HM Government 2011 pvii). “The best thing we can do for the all-important First Time Buyer is to get the economy back onto a sound footing” (Shapps 2010a npn). “Housing must take its share of the burden. If we don’t there is a real threat to the economic future of this country” (ibid. 2010b npn). Dergulation and localism were important

18 Govt spending on ‘housing and community amenities’, UK, real terms (2009/2010 prices), £bn Source: PESA 2013 Table 4.3

19 Govt spending on sub-categories within ‘housing and community amenities’ and on ‘housing: social protection’, UK, (2009/10 prices), £bn Source: PESA 2013 Table 5.2

20 New space and sharing policies 2012: ‘Levelling down’ to sharing ‘norm’ for Local Housing Allowance for single people claiming Housing Benefit extended to those aged 25-34 claiming Housing Benefit The ‘benefit cap’ – may be at/below bedroom standard The ‘bedroom tax’ – at bedroom standard Coalition has had limited impact on problems of affordability and housing supply 2014 - housing market still had “deep, deep structural problems” (Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, interview with Sky News, 18 th May 2014 [online] Last accessed November 2014,


22 5. Meanwhile: The discovery of the ‘sharing economy’ The internet has enabled the development of a ‘sharing economy’ – making possible short term ‘sharing’ of cars, bikes, tools, household goods and even clothing with people outside your immediate social network This ‘sharing’ is commodified – it is actually renting Housing is an unusual ‘share’ amongst these others: Very high capital, and rentable value (and benefits/risks to owner) Perhaps particularly high sentimental value Owner and renter may use the rented item simultaneously (if not equally, and if for a short period)

23 An example: AirBnB “Find a place to stay. Rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries” ( Started 2008 in San Francisco Householders place adverts on the site, describing the home in a set format. They are able to set the fee charges, to specify check-in and check-out times and ‘house rules’. They are also able to get an AirBnB rep to visit to take attractive photos. The site makes income from both householders and renters, charged at “6- 12%” of the stated price to guests, and 3% to hosts ( Users are encouraged to leave reviews of their stay, by a reminder email. Hosts are also encouraged to review guests, although few take up this option.

24 A mini research project: Methods 1.Review of literature on home ownership, and on motives for acting as a landlord to lodgers, and on AirBnB and similar services 2.Analysis of UK data on AirBnB website 3.Analysis of data on case study city’s housing and overnight stay market 4.Interviews with a small number of AirBnB landlords (fc).

25 AirBnB in York ‘York’: 187 bedspaces, rooms and whole homes offered (Feb 2014) Number fluctuates daily Only 48/187 in York LA area

26 Typology of offers of ‘shares’ 1.AirBnB ‘archetype’: Resident host (owner occupier – or tenant) ‘Guest’ has own bedroom (or space) Guest and host share bathroom, living room, kitchen, circ space Guest and host share some non-functional time Host doesn’t provide food Host doesn’t ask for deposit 30 of this type in York 2.Holiday let (inc BT-holiday let): 18 of this type in York 3.Traditional BnB/small hotel: 0 of this type in York

27 Hypotheses on potential motives for discretionary very temporary sharing of housing a)Income? b)Opportunities for sociability? Choice or constraint? NB Not tested directly via interviews so far

28 a) Evidence of financial motives According to the company, earnings are primary motive - “Host: Renting out your unused space could pay your bills or fund your next holiday” ( In info on registration: “You're so close to a payday you can almost taste it!” ( Indicative of choice or of constraint?

29 Estimated total earnings of ‘sharers’ - limited Estimate earnings: Reviews (as measure of stays) x min nights stay x price ?Real earnings may be x2 or more In York: £32,996 total estimated earnings by 30 ‘archetype’ hosts – Ave c£1,000 each, 4 above £4,250 annual lodger tax free limit Costs: Opportunity costs of being at home to let guests in; hosting time Laundry, cleaning, new equipment, breakages (insurance?)

30 b) Evidence of enjoyment of opportunities for (structured, superficial) sociability Host profiles: “I…love to travel and meet new people” “We enjoy travel and meeting new people” “Pop in and say hi, or keep yourselves to yourselves, I don’t mind” “I am happy and easy going and love having people to stay. I have just returned from my holiday and stayed at an airbanb and loved it too” “I like cooking” Evidence of choice?

31 c) Evidence of ability to display – and be appreciated for - hosting skills Starring system Reviews by guests (ave 22/host): “They are a lovely couple that were friendly and so nice” “We were brilliantly looked after” “We were welcomed before we even rang the bell by X, who had seen us from the window. We were offered coffee and cake and sat at the kitchen table while X marked on our map the best restaurants and the important sites” “X opens her beautiful home to her guests, and is always happy to impart her local knowledge” “X and Y symbolized a lifestyle to me, a lifestyle that combines tranquility and sparkles, a lifestyle that i am striving to” “The cat was amazing”

32 How much sharing and socialising? Varies – in some cases/times quite limited; remains discretionary: Guests: “We only met X and her husband on our last day right before we left and it was nice to actually meet them” “I stay at X's house for one night. I did not meet X, but X arranged everything well” “Although we shared the large, modern bath with the owners and at least one other guest, we never encountered anyone going or coming”

33 d) Evidence of ability to display homemaking skills Professional photography provided Listings: ‘Artist's stylist city centre apartment’ ‘Cool contemporary room central York’ ‘Renovated eco chapel York’ Further host comments: “College of Art graduates X and Y have created the perfect, dreamy get- away… lovingly restored and styled by its artist owners and features their original artworks… ‘We have been renovating our house for years and years - something of an obsession- and thought we would put it to good use by doing this airbnb!’”

34 Implications of this mini-research A structured, unequal, commodified form of sharing housing -But a substantial challenge to conventional view of owner occupation as valued for asset status and/or privacy Evidence of limitation of sharing of time and space even within this model - But evidence of choice and constraint; possibly evidence of latent demand for co-housing and other sharing?

35 5. Where does co-housing fit in? Attempts to enable sharing go against the grain of housing policy Co-housing not seen as part of ‘sharing economy’ Potentially a solution to some of structural problems in housing system Evidence of (large scale) increase in unchosen sharing; some evidence of (large scale) latent demand for sharing Housing market problems and lack of investment potentially an opportunity

36 36 References Bradshaw, J.; Middleton, S., Davis, A., Oldfield, N., Smith, N., Cusworth, L., and Williams, J, (2008), A minimum income standard for Britain: What people think, York, JRF Bramley, G., Leishman, C. and Watkins, D. (2008) Understanding neighbourhood housing markets: regional context, disequilibrium, sub-markets and supply; Housing Studies 23(2) pp179-212 Hamnett, C. (1999), Winners and losers: Home ownership in modern Britain, London, UCL Malpass, P. (2005), Housing and the welfare state: The development of housing policy in Britain, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan Marsh, A and Gibb, K (2011) ‘Uncertainty, expectations and behavioural aspects of housing market choices’, Housing, Theory and Society, 28(3), pp215-235 Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2004), Overcrowding in England: The national and regional picture: Statistics, London, ODPM ONS (2014a) Families and households in England and Wales 2011 Correction 30 th January 2013 London: ONS ONS (2014b) What does the 2011 Census tell us about concealed families living in multi-family households in England and Wales? 6 th February London: ONS Pawson, H., Brown, C. and Jones, A. (2009) Exploring local authority policy and practice on housing allocations, London: Communities and Local GovernmentExploring local authority policy and practice on housing allocations Rex, J. and Moore, R. (1967), Race, community and conflict: A study of Sparkbrook, Oxford: Oxford University Press Rowntree, B. S. (1901), Poverty: A study of town life, London, Macmillan and Co. Rowntree, B. S. (1985), Poverty and progress, New York, Garland Publishers Saunders, P. (1990), A nation of home owners, London, Allen and Unwin Stephens, M., Fitzpatrick, S., Elsinga, M., van Steen, G., and Chzhen, E. (2010), Study on housing exclusion: Welfare policies, housing provision and labour markets, Brussels, European Commission Woolf, V. (1991), A room of one’s own London, Hogarth Press.

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