More than one in eight private renters may miss out on support to cope with rising energy costs, Citizens Advice claims.
The charity warns that tenants with an agent or landlord who manages their bills are locked out of accessing the £150 Warm Home Discount.
It claims they could also miss out on the upcoming £400 energy grant from the government this October. This only goes to those who pay energy suppliers directly.
Previous claims by Citizens Advice states that one in five renters expect their rent to go up this year.
While some tenants prefer contracts where energy bills are included in the rent, Citizens Advice is worried that many won’t know they could miss out on government support.
There is currently no legal requirement for landlords to pass on the £400 energy grant to their tenants and no guidance on how it should be managed fairly by landlords.
The charity has highlighted a number of ways in which private tenants apparently risk falling through the cracks:
- if their energy contract is in their landlord’s name, which means they’re unable to change it;
- if the landlord pays for energy and then ‘resell’ it to their tenants - although the landlord is only legally allowed to charge the tenant the same price they paid;
- some tenants are charged via “sub-meters” where landlords or agents organise energy for the building, often through a business energy supply contract. As the price cap does not apply to these contracts, tenants can see rapid price increases, it’s claimed.
Citizens Advice is urging the government to bring forward clear guidance for agents and landlords on how they manage the upcoming grant if they control their tenants’ energy contract.
The charity is also calling on the government to make sure tenants can take control of their energy bills if they want to, so that they can receive support directly.
Charity chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty says: “With the price of energy at a record high, it’s vital that government support reaches the people it’s intended for. We’re worried that many tenants are falling through the cracks, putting them at risk of missing out on money to help them with soaring bills.
“Renters must be able to take control of their energy payments if they want to, so they can get all the support they need. The government should also bring forward clear guidance for landlords to make sure tenants don’t miss out on the upcoming £400 energy grant.”