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Private Renters In Poor Quality Homes Face £1,000 Higher Costs For Heating   

Published on: 9 Nov, 2016
Updated on: 13 Nov, 2016

Three quarters of a million private renters in the UK are stuck in the coldest and draughtiest homes, new Citizens Advice analysis reveals.

Citizens Advice new logoTo heat their homes to a comfortable standard, these tenants face spending £1,000 more than the national average on their energy bills – but are reliant on landlords to make cost-saving improvements.

According to Citizens Advice, the Department of Environment & Climate Change (DECC) expects that 11% of Guildford’s households will experience fuel poverty.

Citizens Advice Guildford has seen 63 clients regarding fuel debt in the last year alone.

The analysis reveals landlords could be raking in almost a quarter of a billion (£242 million) per month for letting out homes that will be freezing cold in the winter.

Some 750,000 private tenants are thought to be living in more than 300,000 properties in England with the worst energy efficiency ratings of F and G. These renters face more problems with damp, lack of central heating and poor insulation.

Renters living in energy efficient band F and G homes:

  • Are twice as likely to suffer from damp than any other properties
  • Half a million have no access to central heating or storage heaters
  • Nearly two thirds have no wall insulation
  • Less than half have modern condensing boilers, which have been mandatory for any new or replacement installations since 2005

The average private rent for F and G energy efficient band properties in England is £174 per week. In addition to this, energy bills are often very expensive in these homes.

A spokesperson for Citizens Advice Guildford said: “We are particularly concerned about the energy costs of private renters; however, private renters also face many other issues in Guildford.

“In the past year at our bureau we have encountered 427 issues regarding private sector rented properties. Of these, 63 have been issues about repairs and maintenance in privately rented homes.”

Nationally, Citizens Advice reports that those currently living in the lowest, G rated energy efficient properties face spending £2,600 a year to keep warm – more than twice as high as the national average (£1,210), according to research from the Association for the Conservation of Energy.

The Energy Act 2011 introduced a legal requirement for all rented properties to have an energy efficient rating of at least Band E by 2020. All new tenancies must meet Band E standards by 2018.

However, regulations introduced last year means landlords don’t have to take any action that costs them an upfront fee.

Citizens Advice believes the government should make landlords carry out improvements costing less than £5,000 that will take homes up to the minimum Band E standard. It also says a new fund, paid for by the stamp duty levy, could be set up to help landlords pay for more expensive improvements.

The chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “Thousands of private tenants face a bleak winter in cold and draughty homes.

“Not only do they suffer more problems with damp and poor heating, these private renters also pay way over the odds on energy bills to keep warm. But with private tenants footing the cost of heating, landlords have little incentive to make upgrades.

“Our research reveals that many landlords still have a long way to go to bring the worst energy wasting homes up to scratch – so it’s vital the government takes action to insist that all landlords who can afford to – raise standards in the homes they let.

“If people are happy to take on the role of a landlord, they need to be responsible enough to make sure the property is safe, comfortable and fairly priced.”

Citizens Advice also proposes setting up a new energy improvement fund to help landlords with improvements costing more than £5,000.

This fund would be paid for by increasing the stamp duty levy on buy-to-let homes to 4%. This would raise more than £200 million to be used for efficiency improvements. The fund could also incentivise landlords to make further improvements that would take their energy efficient property rating up to Band C.

If you would like advice on any of the issues raised above, do not hesitate to contact Citizens Advice Guildford at 15-21 Haydon Place GU1 4LL.

Tel: 01483 576699

Click here for Citizens Advice Guildford’s website.

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