Energy efficiency has become an important consideration for an increasing number of people in recent years, and this requires landlords to acknowledge the growing need for energy efficient rental properties.
An energy efficient home will now be on a higher proportion of prospective tenants' wish lists – helping them to lower their bills, decrease the risk of mould and keep properties warmer, amongst other benefits - and so landlords are becoming increasingly required to adapt to a changing market and improve the energy efficiency of the properties they’re letting.
As well as working to meet tenants' expectations, landlords must also consider incoming legal regulations which will render the least energy efficient homes 'unlettable'.
With energy efficient properties taking on more prominence in the rental sector, we've taken a look at what tenants want and the types of modifications landlords can make in order to improve the energy efficiency of a property.
Tenants are more conscious of energy efficiency
Long-standing rental requirements such as location, amenities and quality of property remain important to tenants, but in recent years it's become clear that factors like internet connection and energy efficiency have been added to many tenants' list of criteria when looking for a rental home.
Back in March 2016, we looked at research suggesting that tenants' energy expectations were on the rise. The vast majority of 500 tenants surveyed said they considered double glazing to be a top priority in their next rental home, while a fifth expected the landlord to provide cost-effective central heating.
Now, there's been further research to back up the theory that tenants are increasingly tuned into energy efficiency matters - something which is reflected in their choice of rental property.
A survey of 500 tenants, carried out by YouGov on behalf of PC World, found that 80% of respondents agreed that property owners should give consideration to the environmental impact of their property and undertake measures to ensure that it's environmentally friendly.
One of the key measures mentioned was a smart meter - with 32% of participants indicating they would expect a smart meter as part of a furnished rental property. What's more, 55% of those surveyed said they would rather live in a property with a smart meter if the rental cost was the same.
Energy regulations and why some properties could become ‘unlettable’
Since April 2016, tenants have been legally permitted to ask their landlord to improve energy efficiency in a rental property if its Energy Performance Certificate rating is lower than a band E-.
On top of this, next April it’ll become a legal requirement for all private rented properties to be rated E- or higher and will therefore be illegal for landlords to let properties rated F- or G-.
So, while it's important for landlords to consider tenants' expectations, there are also pressing legal obligations that they need to think about.
According to a study by Quick Move Now, some 8% of available rental homes currently fall below the minimum energy efficiency standards - something which, from 2018, could significantly impact on the supply of rental homes.
The Government has so far resisted calls for the introduction of minimum energy efficiency requirements to be extended and so any landlords with properties currently rated F- or G- need to act sooner rather than later.
What green modifications could you make to your rental property?
Smart meters - as you can see from YouGov’s survey results, smart meters are popular with tenants. This technology allows them to see how much energy they're using and how much it’s costing them. Every home and business in the UK is due to be offered smart meters for electricity and gas by the end of 2020.
Solar panels – Solar panels aren't cheap and often aren’t that aesthetically pleasing, but they’re certainly effective when it comes to reducing energy bills and increasing energy efficiency. Some systems also allow you to sell excess power back to the National Grid.
Insulation – Good insulation is one of the keys to maintaining an energy efficient property - roofs, walls, lofts and doors all need to be looked after. No matter how efficient the rest of a property, if it’s poorly insulated heat will escape quickly and in high quantities.
Lighting – According to the Energy Saving Trust, lighting accounts for around a fifth of the average household's electricity bill. Replacing traditional lightbulbs with either Compact Fluorescent Lamps or LEDs could significantly reduce the lighting energy consumption in a property.
Boiler – Old boilers are likely to be inefficient, not to mention sometimes dangerous. Installing a new boiler - which will be significantly more energy efficient - is a great investment and could have a positive impact on the rental property's overall levels of carbon emissions.
On top of these measures, you could also install a water saving showerhead, invest in double or triple glazing, use thicker curtains to help with insulation or simply think of ways to lower energy consumption.
As energy efficiency takes on even more importance in the next few years, it’s important that landlords keep up to date with what’s required of them and what tenants expect when it comes to green matters.