Shaping housing policy with Zoopla data analysis

Analysis of Zoopla data has informed two significant projects focusing on homelessness and housing requirements for lower-income households in Great Britain. Zoopla data come from on-line listings of properties for sale or rent in the UK, and are held under licence by the Urban Big Data Centre.

The work, led by Glen Bramley, Professor of Urban Studies at Heriot-Watt University, is helping to shape UK Government housing policy. It has been commended by a House of Commons Select Committee as the best available (1) and attracted interest from key housing organisations (2) as well as political leadership policy advisors

Project overviews:

· Homelessness Monitors: Supported by Crisis, this ongoing project involves producing periodic 'Homelessness Monitors' for England, Wales, and Scotland. One element of the project involves estimates and model-based projections of 'core homelessness,' statutory homeless applications, and numbers in temporary accommodation. The project also estimates the impact differing policy changes would make to these key numbers.

· Housing Requirements for Lower-Income Households: initially produced in 2018 with support from Crisis and the National Housing Federation, this study analyses housing needs for marginalised populations in Great Britain. Subsequent updates provide insights into housing supply requirements.

Professor Bramley said: “The data downloaded from Zoopla focussed primarily on the private rental housing sector at local authority level, with particular reference to asking rents by dwelling size and numbers of listings as a proxy for rental lettings.

“I believed that Zoopla listings could give a fuller and more live picture of actual market rent levels and scale of the sector than the official Valuation Office Agency published statistics, but combined the two sources for these variables within my modelling work.

“Rents are a critical measure of the affordability of available housing for lower income groups, and the relationship between actual new let rents and the Government's 'Local Housing Allowance' rates (the so-called 'LHA gap') can be critical as a predictor of households at risk of, or actually losing Private Rented Sector tenancies, to become homeless, as well as of the ability of Local Authorities to undertake effective prevention measures or move households out of expensive and unsuitable temporary accommodation.”   

Leveraging Zoopla data

Zoopla data was identified as valuable to the projects for providing a better understanding of private rental housing sector dynamics. Zoopla listings offer real-time insights into market rent levels and sector scale, complementing official statistics. Incorporating Zoopla data into the modelling work provided a more comprehensive understanding of rental affordability and policy impacts.

Impact of research with Zoopla data

Findings from the homelessness monitors have influenced parliamentary debates and legislative changes across Great Britain. Government officials have referenced projections in discussions, particularly regarding the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) gap. Projections emphasising the need to raise the LHA have led to policy changes. Research findings on housing supply requirements have informed a consensus among housing organisations on increased housing construction, especially for social rent. The work has also been commended by the House of Commons Select Committee on Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; and attracted interest from key housing organisations as well as the Labour Party's leadership policy advisors.

The integration of Zoopla data has significantly enhanced housing research by incorporating real-time insights into models, providing valuable insights to policymakers and housing organisations to combat homelessness and increase the availability of affordable housing.

Richard Donnell, Executive Director at Zoopla said: "Zoopla is delighted that our data is being used to support academic research into important topics facing policymakers and practitioners. We are pleased to support the Urban Big Data Centre and their partners with further analysis of the housing market to shape and inform better policies at a country and localised level."


(1) House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Building more social housing. Third Report of Session 2019-21, HC 173. 27 July 2020. See s.4, pp. 24-27 Building More Social Housing (  

(2) The social housebuilding targets proposed in the 2019 project were endorsed by a wide range of organisations, as recorded in the REF 2020 Impact case study  (these included NHF, Crisis, Centre for Social Justice, Welsh Government, the independent Affordable Housing Commission, Shelter, Local Government Association, London Councils, District Councils Network, Homeless Link, Centrepoint, and St Mungos) published by UKRI/HEFCE.


Homelessness Monitor for England: Homelessness Monitor 2022 | England | Crisis UK

Homelessness Monitor for Scotland: The Homelessness Monitor: Scotland 2024 | Crisis UK

Homelessness Monitor for Wales: The Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2021 | Crisis UK

Original full report on Housing Requirements: Bramley, G. (2019) Housing Supply Requirements across Great Britain for Low Income Households and Homeless People. Research for Crisis and the National Housing Federation: 

Updated Housing Requirements full technical report: DOI: 10.17861/c99k-4v55

Request access to Zoopla data held by UBDC.

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