Housing Conditions and Overcrowding


A warm, suitable and safe home is the minimum we should all expect, however there are indications that ethnic minority people in Wales (and in UK) experience poorer housing outcomes. This includes housing conditions and overcrowding. This page will help you consider key issues and actions you can take to address this.


How does this link to Anti-racist Wales Action Plan?

ARWAP asks housing providers to:

  • Demonstrate how they will ensure that anti-racism and race equality are embedded within their services. This includes housing needs and conditions.
  • Housing associations need to comply with regulatory standards: RS1 c) evidence based commitments including anti-racism & RS3 b) deliver services which meet diverse needs


What you need to know

  • Statistics: Ethnic minority groups are much more likely to experience overcrowding: 3.8% of White British people in Wales experience overcrowding compared to 24.6% of Gypsy or Irish Travellers, 25.5% of Bangladeshi people, 24.5 % of Black African people, 21.2% of Pakistani people and 19.9% of Arab people (Census 2021).
  • Housing quality: Ethnic minority people are more likely to live in poorer quality housing. More info here.
  • Awaab Ishak: Racial stereotyping in maintenance & repairs was a key element of service failure in the tragic death of Awaab Ishak. English Ombudsman’s investigation found culture of othering, blame for damp & mould assigned to cultural practices, and a culture where ‘refugees should be grateful for what they have’.


What you can do 

  • Data: Analyse key housing conditions data by ethnicity. Consider data on: stock condition, repairs satisfaction, average repairs, repeat repairs, content of complaints (and any pre-complaint contact).
  • Inclusive maintenance culture: Ensure culture of repairs and maintenance delivery is anti-racist and inclusive. Standard approaches may not work: maintenance can be geared up towards standard ‘two-up two-down’ builds and house usage/wear & tear typical for White British cultures. Anything perceived to be ‘out of the norm’ (e.g. intergenerational, larger, overcrowded homes, or spaces which are used differently to what is perceived as typical) can present challenges for maintenance staff, increasing the need for education, support and raising awareness.
  • Overcrowding: regularly monitor overcrowding by race (& other characteristics) & set up proactive measures to tackle it. Short/mid-term this can include: tenancy reviews, raising awareness of re-housing & transfers & targeted affordability support, consider alterations to increase space in older homes (e.g. loft conversions); consider community living (housing larger families close to each other); converting 2 smaller houses into one larger home.
  • Development: consider building larger and appropriately designed properties based on your evidence. Check out this Tai Pawb Good Practice Briefing on culturally appropriate design.
  • Engagement: engage with ethnic minority tenants and communities to find out about their experiences of housing conditions, repairs and future needs.
  • Service failure/complaints: improve access to complaints and pre-complaint processes including interpreting and translation
  • Housing support evidence: consider analysing/accessing evidence from housing support services – what does it show on housing conditions & race?
  • LHMA’s – it is crucial to capture the need for larger homes or homes with culturally appropriate designs in the assessment of housing need.
  • Decarbonisation: retrofit programms can present a good opportunity to consider and meet the needs of ethnic minority households


Report: the housing experiences in Wales of people from ethnic minority communities

Alongside our partners at EYST, we published a full report on the housing experiences in Wales of people from ethnic minority communities, in 2024. Underpinned by lived experience – and working in-line with commitments in the Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan – it contains the views and of more than 100 cross-tenure tenants, following digital surveys and in-person focus group sessions.

Some of the experiences referred to are raw and challenging; the research uncovered a number of instances where participants felt their race had played a part and had disadvantaged them. Participants were also asked to give direct feedback and to propose solutions for tackling the issues they had identified.

There are number of points for consideration across the housing sector, including for social housing providers, private landlords and Welsh Government.

Read the report:

Series of good practice examples from Tai Pawb members’ Deeds not Words meeting

  • Melin Homes analysed their number of average repairs per household by protected characteristic, including race. The analysis did not find any over or underrepresentation.
  • Monmouthshire Housing introduced more proactive monitoring of overcrowding. They set up 6 monthly checks of overcrowded properties, including support with seeking alternative accommodation.
  • Methyr Valleys Homes – in a situation of high need for an overcrowded household and lack of larger social homes available, the organisation altered two existing homes by combining them into a larger home.