Skip to main content

You are here

Energy efficiency in private-rented housing: certified failure?

It’s best not to form a judgement on something without witnessing it for yourself. Unfortunately, it seems like landlords are denying tenants the chance to do just that when it comes to the energy efficiency of their properties.

A Freedom of Information request by 10:10 revealed that nearly three quarters of private landlords are not displaying their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for prospective renters – an omission that’s against the law. With energy bills a major public concern, many tenants are simply signing contracts with their eyes closed to hidden costs.

You won’t be surprised to learn that from Energy Saving Trust’s perspective, this is very disappointing news indeed. We have advocated for EPCs to enjoy the equivalent status in the housing market of the energy efficiency rating of appliances or even the fuel economy of a car.

On the plus side, compliance with EPC legislation is much better in social housing (75 per cent) and home sales (95 per cent). But it’s in these housing sectors where, generally-speaking, much more work is being done to improve the energy efficiency of properties, too.

Our research from January this year showed that while plenty of private tenants are interested in energy efficiency upgrades, private rented properties are behind homes owned outright or through a mortgage when it comes to insulation.

Being charitable, perhaps we might say that some private landlords are simply embarrassed that they haven’t got round to making that change towards a home that’s cosier and cheaper for their tenants, so they’re hiding the truth bashfully. But help is at hand, as our housing strategy manager David Weatherall explains:

The problem’s been that more than half of private rented homes were built before 1944. They’re often cold, expensive to heat and most have traditional solid walls. In the past there have been few grants to improve insulation in these solid wall homes. But now, substantial financial support for solid wall insulation is available to all GB private landlords under the ECO grant scheme, which is linked to the Green Deal.”

If light persuasion via a blog doesn’t work, we’ve prepared some help for tenants who are looking to encourage their landlord to take action, including a customisable template letter and some tips to get by in the meantime. For more information about EPCs and what they’re for, we’ve got a page for that too.

The Government says that new data has not been quality assured, but they are certainly indicative of a real problem facing domestic energy efficiency. Let's hope, then, that when new and more vouched-for numbers come to light, things have significantly improved.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

Post a comment

Hello - I was looking for the letter template, but stupidly cannot find it.