18 April 2012 – Many UK tenants who live in the coldest privately rented homes are revolting against their landlords and calling on the government to act to improve conditions.  Their concern highlights the dilemma of many commercial landlords who will face hefty bills to make their properties more energy efficient over the next six years as legislation on minimum standards comes into force.

The UK Energy Act 2011 requires the government to pass laws that would make it illegal to let commercial properties that score below a minimum “E” rating after April 2018.

The angry tenants, backed by Citizens Advice and Friends of the Earth, UK, live in the coldest privately rented homes which haemorrhage heat through the walls, windows and doors. They are trapped into higher fuel bills because they rely on landlords to make their properties energy efficient.

Citizens Advice wants:

  • Private landlords to take responsibility for cutting tenants’ fuel bills and make their homes more energy efficient now, instead of waiting for the government to force their hand in 2018;
  • The government to bring forward, from 2018 to 2016, the date when it will be an offence, in most cases, to let or market a property that falls below an Energy Performance Certificate rating Band E – a move which would save tenants in the worst insulated properties up to £1000 ($1538).

Citizens Advice has told private tenants to check if they are entitled to free or cut-price insulation from their energy supplier – as it could encourage their landlord to take action.

Around 680,000 private tenants who live in the coldest homes (those in with an energy rating of F or G) on average fork out £488 ($750) per year on wasted energy – over 40 per cent of these tenants are in fuel poverty.

But there is a lack of clarity about how the new measures dictated by the UK Energy Act 2011 will be applied and assessed, leaving many portfolio managers unable to cost their upgrades.

According to the UK Department for Communities and Local Government, around 18 per cent  of the country’s building stock is rated below this standard.

This means that approximately 55,000 commercial buildings a year would have to be upgraded in the next six years to meet the government’s target.

“In a large portfolio you could be looking at a large number of buildings that will be unlettable come 2018. Landlords should certainly be paying attention,’ Alastair Mant, sustainability surveyor at property advisory firm GVA, said.

See report on the implications of the UK Energy Act 2011

See The Guardian’s report on private tenants