Campaign group Generation Rent says private tenants could miss out on an energy efficiency drive if they are not given the right to demand improvements to the properties they live in.
In a warning letter sent to energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng the campaign - which is led by Baroness Alicia Kennedy - says the recent English Housing Survey found that of 4.8m private rented homes some 459,000 failed the Decent Homes Standard on thermal comfort criteria.
The Green Homes Grant was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this month to provide up to £5,000 for measures to improve energy efficiency in owner occupied and private rented homes.
But the campaign claims that as things stand, private renters have to rely on their landlord to apply for the grant and - it says in a statement - “landlords have little incentive to make improvements.”
Baroness Kennedy says: “Landlords have been allowed to get away with letting out poorly insulated homes and as a result too many private renters cannot afford to heat their homes properly. The Green Homes Grant is a huge opportunity to rectify this, but nothing will happen unless the government makes it easy for renters to benefit and tells them about it. If renters are shut out of the process we’ll miss this chance to improve the quality of rented homes and reduce renters’ bills.”
A 2016 survey by Generation Rent found that one in 13 private tenants actually had their energy bills paid by their landlords and included in their rent.
“Moreover, 2019 Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards regulations mean landlords with F- and G-rated properties are only obliged to spend up to £3,500 on improvements” says the group.
It continues: “The lack of security in private tenancies acts as a further obstacle to retrofitting private rented homes - the 2016 survey found just 17 per cent of private renters have asked for energy efficiency measures.”
Generation Rent now demands the government should:
- promote the Green Homes Grant to private renters with an easy way to access their Energy Performance Certificate and identify potential improvements;
- enable renters to request quotes from accredited installers and send these to the landlord, “minimising the administration burden for the landlord”;
- ringfence part of the scheme’s budget for improvements to private rented properties, especially where those properties are occupied by people in or at risk of fuel poverty;
- record the tenure of every property that benefits from the grants to aid assessment of the impact of the scheme on the private rented sector”;
- temporarily lift the cap for MEES to £8,500 to account for the £5,000 available under the Green Homes Grant.