Just 65.3 per cent of dwelling were lived in by their owners in 2011/12, down from 66 per cent the previous year and a peak of 70.9 per cent back in 2003.
The last time the level was lower was in 1987, when it was recorded at 64.6 per cent.
In recent years the proportion of households that are privately rented has jumped, from 10 per cent at the turn of the millenium, to 17.4 per cent by 2011/12.
“The numbers and proportion of households living in the private rented sector have been rising in recent years, and in 2011/12 were at the same level as in the social sector, 3.8m households,” said the report, which was compiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
In 1980, before the effects of the right to buy scheme – introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government – had kicked in, there were three million more social renters than private renters.
Back then, nearly a third (31.4 per cent) of households were in the social rented sector, while only just over half (56.6 per cent) were occupied by their owners.
According to the latest figures for 2011/12, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of households in the social rented sector are in receipt of housing benefit, compared to around a quarter (26 per cent) of those in the private rented sector.
The cost of rent has continued to increase in recent years. The DCLG said that the mean average rent in the private sector was £164 per week, up from £153 in 2008/09. Social rent came in at £83 a week.