Renters in the UK living in cold homes with high energy bills have been given new protection rights with landlords now required to ensure their property meets a minimum energy efficiency standard as part of a series of new regulations.
The changes will help households who live in poorly insulated homes with outdated heating systems which are often difficult and expensive to heat effectively.
Since 2018, all private rented properties have had to meet a minimum energy performance rating of Band E before they can be let to a new tenant or a tenancy is renewed. Recent updates to these rules now mean landlords must pay up to £3,500 towards the cost of energy efficiency improvements in sub-standard rental homes*.
From April next year, more stringent regulations will require landlords to improve properties with the lowest energy performance ratings, even when occupied with existing tenants, or face significant financial penalties.
Since 2002 the private rental sector has doubled in size and now accounts for nearly a quarter of UK households. However, 25% of these properties don’t meet basic energy efficiency standards**. Rural renters, including the many in UK, are some of the worst affected, with data showing some 97% of oil using homes in the UK are currently rated Band D or below, despite oil being amongst the cheapest of all heating fuel options for off-grid homes.
Malcom Farrow from OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, commented: "With quality, affordable rented housing in short supply, many may feel compelled to move into a property without first checking how energy efficient it is, despite fuel bills being one of the biggest household expenditures. These new rules will put the onus on landlords to ensure that all properties they let meet a minimum standard which should provide welcome relief to many renters, particularly those living in fuel poverty and struggling to pay their energy bills."
Tenants are also being reminded to check with their landlord that the heating system has been recently serviced by an OFTEC (for oil) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician to make sure it is working correctly and efficiently.
Malcolm added: "As well as providing a better deal for tenants, these updated regulations are designed to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging landlords to install modern and more efficient heating systems as well as reducing unnecessary heat usage due to draughty walls and windows. The government has set a target to upgrade as many homes as possible to EPC band C by 2035."
*Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) regulations
**English Housing Survey 2017-18