Dwelling stock data: notes and definitions (includes HFR full guidance notes and returns form)

Guidance for local authorities compiling annual information on dwelling stock data (including vacants and net supply of housing), including the Housing Flows Reconciliation (HFR) formsform and guidance.

Applies to England

This guidance is to be read in conjunction with the series on dwelling stock which includes the latest statistical releases and sets of live tables.

For a glossary of terms and definitions used in the DepartmentMinistry forof LevellingHousing, Up,Communities Housing and CommunitiesLocal (DLUHC)Government’s (MHCLG) housing statistical publications and English Housing Survey reports see the Housing statistics and English Housing Survey glossary.

Estimates of the total dwelling stock, stock changes and the tenure distribution for each country are made by DLUHC,MHCLG, the Scottish Government, the NationalWelsh AssemblyGovernment, for Wales, and Northern IrelandIreland’s Department for Social Development.Communities.

Vacant dwellings and second homes are included in all English stock figures.

Total stock calculations

Estimates for total stock are derived from the Census for those years in which a Census was undertaken. In between census years, the total figures are produced by adding the annual net supply of housing to the existing dwelling stock (see ‘Net change in the dwelling stock’ below). The series before 2001 has been adjusted to meet the 1991 and 2001 Census estimates. Similarly the series from 2002 to 2011 has been adjusted to meet the 2011 Census estimates.

The 1981 census did not include a direct count of dwellings which could be used for pre-1991 estimates. Instead, estimates have been made using the information about access which was recorded for each ‘household space’ (the living accommodation occupied or intended to be occupied by one household).

The method used took the number of self-contained household spaces in permanent buildings, each of which must by definition correspond to a separate dwelling, and add to that figure an allowance for shared dwellings. This was done by assuming that on average 100 ‘not self contained’ household spaces are equivalent to 25 separate dwellings (for Inner London where sharing is prevalent, this figure is reduced to 19).

Since only a very small proportion of dwellings are shared, the dwelling stock estimates are not very sensitive to the number of household spaces assumed per shared dwelling. (All household spaces that are not in permanent buildings are assumed to be self-contained dwellings.)

For an explanation of how the dwelling count is derived from the 2011 Census, including the definitions of a dwelling and a household, please read the note: The 2011 Census dwelling count (PDF, 30.8 KB, 4 pages).


The method of compiling annual stock figures by tenure in between Census years is set out in the latest dwelling stock estimates statistical release. For tenure definitions please see Housing statistics and English Housing Survey glossary.

Net change in the dwelling stock

The annual net additional dwellings figure, or net supply of housing, is the absolute change in dwelling stock between 1 April and 31 March the following year. It is derived from the number of new build completions; plus the net gain from dwelling conversions; plus the net gain of non-residential buildings brought into residential use; plus other gains and losses to the dwelling stock (such as mobile and temporary dwellings); less any demolitions during the financial year.

The source of these data is DLUHC’sMHCLG’s Housing Flows Reconciliation return, completed by local authorities, and data from the Greater London Authority. For more information please see the latest net supply of housing statistical release.

The net supply of housing statistical release is separate from and complementary to DLUHC’sMHCLG’s quarterly National Statistics on new house building, providing a more comprehensive but less timely measure of total housing supply in England.

Completions figures from the quarterly house building series are not used in the net supply of housing statistics. Instead a separate set of data on the new build completions component of net additions is collected as part of the overall annual net additions data collection. This eliminates timing differences from the net supply series and provides a coherent picture of the components of net change for a given year.

The house building statistical series combines data from building control officers at local authorities, the National House-Building Council (NHBC) and other independent Approved Inspectors and is published within 8 weeks of the end of each quarter. For net additions, all the data come from local authorities, and the data collection period for these statistics is relatively long, being annual and closing some 6 months after the end of the financial year.

Vacant dwellings

There is no statistical release specifically dedicated to vacant dwellings. For data please go to the live tables on dwelling stock (including vacants) and refer to live tables 612 and 615.

Housing Flows Reconciliation (HFR) formsform and guidance

You use this form to record the changes in the dwelling stock in your local authority area.

Published 14 November 2012
Last updated 2510 July 20232024 + show all updates
  1. Updated HFR returns form and guidance notes.

  2. Updated guidance notes.

  3. Updated guidance notes.

  4. Added updated HFR returns form and guidance notes.

  5. Added updated HFR returns form and guidance notes.

  6. Added new version of HFR returns form and guidance notes.

  7. Added missing HFR returns form and guidance notes.