A rental activists’ campaign group wants tenancies reformed to allow tenants to claim back rent and “give tenants the confidence to ask for improvements” in the energy-efficiency of their homes.
Generation Rent - using a sample of just 51 tenants - says it has identified three barriers to private rental properties getting the energy improvements that the group demands.
These are firstly that renters don’t know enough about their properties to make informed requests for improvements. “Fewer than half knew if their walls were insulated. Energy Performance Certificates are legally required, but don’t have to be updated after installations, so can be up to 10 years out of date” complains the group.
Secondly it says the benefits of energy efficiency improvements are not clear to renters who are worried they won’t live in their home long enough or would be hit by rent increases after work is carried out. Generation Rent says “48 per cent of respondents [out of the survey of 51] were worried that the landlord would raise the rent.”
Thirdly, Generation Rent claims that “landlords will still often ignore tenants’ requests.” It goes on to state that 27 per cent of the 51 had asked for improvements but only “12 per cent” of the 51 reported that their landlord had made some or all of the requested works. “An expectation that the landlord would say no was the most common reason not to request improvements” says the campaign group.
Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of Generation Rent, says: “No one has much of an incentive to make rented homes greener – landlords are in control but don’t pay the bills, while renters won’t make demands if it means the rent might go up.
“If the government is serious about reducing the carbon emissions from our homes, it must use a stick in the form of higher minimum standards for landlords, but also give renters a carrot in the form of stronger rights.
“Renters who are more secure in their home and can claim back rent from an offending landlord will be able to enforce their rights to a warmer home and drive the green revolution.”