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Energy efficiency – your landlord must ensure your home’s up to scratch

Posted on 2018-04-13

Now new energy legislation has come into force (MEES was officially implemented on April 1st 2018), it is illegal for landlords to let a home to new tenants if it has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of lower than an E. From April 1st 2020, this will apply to all existing tenancies as well.

How does this affect me as a tenant?

The new rules aim to drive up standards and energy efficiency in the private rented sector, to ensure all rental homes are fit for purpose and as environmentally‐friendly as they can be.

Your landlord now has a duty to make sure your home is up to the required standards, and it’s in your interests to take action if this is not the case.

Energy efficient homes mean cheaper bills

A home that scores highly on energy efficiency will lead to cheaper bills for you as energy wastage is kept to a minimum.

While landlords have been responding to increased demand for better insulated and more energy efficient properties ‐ with the number of homes holding an EPC rating of F‐ or G‐ falling from around 700,000 in 2012 to approximately 300,000 today – that’s still a lot of homes that aren’t yet up to the required standard - and yours could be one of them.

You’ll be able to tell whether your home has a good enough energy rating, as your landlord should provide you with a copy of the EPC when you move into a rental home.

It pays in more ways than one for your home to be energy efficient – with well‐insulated walls, for example, potentially saving you up to £180 a year, while research has suggested that poorly‐insulated roofs and walls accounts for around £500 million in wasted energy each year.

There are steps your landlord can take to make your home more energy efficient, including the installation of double glazing, loft and cavity wall insulation and boiler upgrades.

Cheaper, more basic steps – which you yourself could enact – include draught excluders, getting to grips with the heating system to ensure you are using it effectively, shutting all doors behind you when you leave a room, solar shading and using appliances such as eco‐friendly kettles.

Smart meters are also a great way of enabling you to monitor your energy efficiency and save you money, with every home in Britain set to be offered one by 2020.

 What do smart meters provide?

‐ more accurate bills

‐ a better understanding of energy usage

‐ the prospect of more innovative energy tariffs

‐ an easy way to monitor energy consumption

 Can tenants request energy efficiency improvements?

 “Yes” is the simple answer to that question. As of April 1st 2016, tenants were given the right to request consent from their landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements to privately rented properties.

What’s more, a landlord is only able to refuse consent if there is a very compelling reason to do so.

There are a few caveats, though. The responsibility for funding the work falls upon the tenant and landlords should be met with no upfront costs, unless they have agreed to help out.

With MEES in mind, however, landlords may be willing to contribute to bring their homes up to scratch or improve their ratings on the EPC scale. There is a chance that the minimum band could go up again in future, so it pays for landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their homes as much as possible, in turn increasing their future appeal to tenants.

Rising number of family renters need suitable homes 

One demographic which might be most concerned about the green credentials of their rental home – and the potential for lower energy bills – is family tenants, a group which is growing in number as each year passes.

The UK’s renting boom – which could, if current trends continue, lead to there being the same number of private renters as mortgage holders by the next general election – is being driven by a surge in the number of 35‐44 year olds renting, priced out of buying due to high house prices and deposits.

This demographic, which is the most likely to have young children or be thinking about starting a family soon, now has 26% of private renters among it, doubling in size from just 13% in 2006/7. Equally, the proportion of those aged between 45 and 54 – perhaps the most likely demographic to have older children living at home – residing in the private rented sector has shot up from 8% to 14%, while the 55‐64 age group (and possibly their millennial children) has gone up to 9% in the same time period.

 This data, taken from the Government’s most recent Family Resource Survey, found that the number of people in private rented housing increased for every age group other than the over‐65s in the decade between 2007 and 2017. The rise has been most prominent among 16‐24 and 25‐34 year olds – a generation that is now far more likely to rent for the long‐term rather than buying a home.

The share of people living in the private rented sector hit 20% in 2017 and is expected to rise steeply in the coming years. For example, the latest Knight Frank Multihousing Report estimated that 24% of households (nearly 6 million people) will be renting privately by 2021.

As one of an increasing number of renters, it is therefore in your interest – and your landlord’s interest – to have a home that performs well when it comes to energy efficiency, from both a monetary and environmentally‐conscious point of view.

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