Private renters suffer cold, damp and mouldy homes

Richard Kay is Communications Manager at the Energy Saving Trust, an organisation helping householders, governments, businesses and organisations save energy every day.

Tenants find it harder to heat their homes than owner occupiers and are the most concerned about their energy bills, according to research from the Energy Saving Trust.

Living in a home that is easy-to-heat, and free of damp and mould should be a basic right, yet it is estimated that there are 400,000 privately rented homes in England with an F or G energy performance rating - almost the same number of households in Birmingham. As winter approaches Caroline Flint's declaration of war on cold homes couldn't be more welcome.

Last week we revealed that many private renters are living in damp, cold and mouldy properties, with no expectation their landlord will pay for home improvements after our public opinion tracker UK Pulse also finding that renters are more concerned about their energy bills compared to owner occupiers. In light of these findings, we are urging landlords to look at ways they can improve the EPC rating of their properties.

The UK Pulse found that 80 per cent of UK tenants are worried about the rising cost of their energy bills because their homes are hard to heat, yet only one in ten renters thought their landlord would make an energy efficiency upgrade without putting up their rent.

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

This week Labour pledged it will go further and introduce an additional target for 2027, requiring all privately rented properties to reach an EPC C band, and although we support all plans for regulating energy efficiency in the private rented sector there is currently no obligation for landlords to contribute to the costs of meeting these higher standards.

The bottom line is that landlords will have to contribute to the cost of these upgrades and, to make it easier, effective grants, funding and engagement programmes must be in place to encourage landlords improve the homes they rent out. Until then tenants will continue to bear the brunt of rising energy bills and cold, damp and mouldy homes.

If you’re feeling the chill and want to know how to save energy in the home click here for our top energy saving tips.

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