UK public: stop landlords renting out cold homes

  • Worried renters finding it hardest to heat homes properly and are most concerned about energy bills
  • Survey ALSO shows private renters suffering more than home-owners from cold, draughty, damp and mouldy homes
  • EST CEO says living in an easy-to-heat and damp-free home should be a basic human right

Seven in ten (70 per cent) of UK householders say that landlords should NOT be allowed to let out homes that have very poor levels of energy efficiency, supporting government proposals to restrict renting of the coldest properties. This is according to the Energy Saving Trust in its latest UK Pulse public opinion trackers.

The findings from the Ipsos MORI survey of over 2,000 UK respondents show this demand is even stronger among renters with nearly eight in ten (78 per cent) supporting this intention.

The UK Pulse findings also revealed that people in rented homes find it hardest to heat their home properly, with over half (51 per cent) saying that they experience cold homes during the winter.

Renters are also more concerned about their energy bills compared to owner-occupiers, with 80 per cent saying that the cost of energy bills are a worry compared to 71 per cent of owner occupiers.

Previous findings from the Energy Saving Trust revealed that draught, damp and mould problems in the home were more common in rented properties than those in owner-occupied homes.

Under plans proposed by Government, English and Welsh landlords will be restricted from renting out their properties from 2018 if they are not rated E or above on the official Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). However, landlords will only have to improve homes to meet the standard where they can access grants to cover the full cost of upgrades – or can persuade tenants to contribute. There is no certainty about what grants will be available when the regulations take effect.

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive at the Energy Saving Trust, said:

“Being able to live in a home that is easy-to-heat, free of damp and mould should be a basic right.”

“It’s not right that landlords are still allowed to rent F and G rated homes in this day and age. There are still 400,000 of these privately rented homes in England – almost the same number of homes as in Birmingham.”

“We support government plans for regulating energy efficiency in the private rented sector but when we get to 2018 there must be effective grants, funding and engagement programmes in place to help landlords make sure they address the homes they rent out. The reality is that landlords may also have to contribute to the cost of these upgrades.”

“If landlords look at EPC of the homes they rent out then this is a good way to identify what things can be done now to bring their properties up to scratch.”

Other findings from the UK Pulse research revealed tenant concerns when engaging with landlords regarding energy efficiency improvements. Only 11 per cent of tenants thought their landlord would make an energy efficiency upgrade without putting up their rent. Sixty-eight per cent of renters have never asked their landlord to improve the energy efficiency of the property they’re renting.

Private renters were the most enthusiastic about domestic renewables, such as solar panels, with over three quarters (75 per cent) saying they would be more likely to rent a property with a renewable energy system compared with one which doesn’t have one installed.

Energy Saving Trust’s three tips for renters:

If you have a good relationship with you landlord, ask them for energy efficiency upgrades. Emphasise that they will reduce your bills. Also tell him/her that energy efficiency improvements can add to the property’s value and appeal to future tenants;

If your home is dangerously cold and you feel able to do this then the first thing to do is speak to your landlord. If that doesn’t work you can complain to your council, private sector housing or environmental health team but you may want to seek advice first from Citizens Advice. The council can oblige your landlord to make improvements;
If – like most private tenants – you’re worried about energy bills remember there is a lot you can do without involving your landlord. Check energy saving advice on the Energy Saving Trust website (www.energysavingtrust.org.uk); for example a typical household can save between £45 and £80 a year by switching appliances off standby.

Energy Saving Trust’s tips for landlords:

  • The EPC of your property should contain recommended energy saving improvements to improve the EPC rating of the home. If you don’t have an EPC it costs between £60 and £120 to get an energy assessment of your property in order to put it on the EPC register. Since costs vary, it is worth shopping around and comparing a few different quotes — as long as you make sure your assessor is registered;
  • Other than looking at the EPC or getting an assessment, you can visit the Energy Saving Trust’s Home Energy Check to see the energy saving improvements that could be made to different properties based on your available budget, as well as being able to see the estimated savings from these improvements. You can find the Home Energy Check on http://hec.est.org.uk/.

Tenants wanting more information about the UK Pulse and how to save energy in the home can visit http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Energy-saving-top-tips.