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From the blog

Fuel Poverty and the Private Rented Sector


Winter is coming. Time to top up the insulation, switch and save, and keep your fingers crossed for a promotion – because these are the factors that will keep you out of “fuel poverty”.

But what happens if you can’t get a promotion, are stuck with a prepayment meter and the insulation in your home isn’t even your decision?

That is the situation many tenants in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) will find themselves in. Over the past decade home ownership in the UK fell for the first time since 1918, from 69% in 2001 to 64% in 2011. This decline can be attributed to the growth of the PRS which rose by 1.7 million households.

The PRS can provide accommodation very well for people like myself, and overall achieves high levels of satisfaction, with 83% of tenants happy with the service they receive from their landlord. However, by tenure grouping in England the PRS has the highest percentage of households in fuel poverty at 17%, in comparison to 11.3% in Housing Association (HA) properties.

A key influence on this result is the significantly poorer quality of energy efficiency across the PRS with a mean average Standard Assessment Proceduce (SAP) score of 55.4, in comparison to 63.8 in the HA sector.  

In response to this the UK Government are implementing two key policy initiatives:

1. From April 2016, domestic landlords in England and Wales should not be able to unreasonably refuse requests from their tenants for consent to energy efficiency improvements, where financial support is available from national or local schemes.
2. It is also expected that from April 2018, all private rented properties (domestic and non-domestic) should be brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard rating, likely to be set at EPC rating “E” (39-54).

This legislation can be used in partnership with the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) which is still offering free cavity wall and loft insulation to households, and there is hope for a scheme to replace the “Green Deal”, which ended in June 2015.

These changes should be welcomed as more rights for tenants and improvements to our housing stock will reduce carbon emissions and help protect against fuel poverty.

Sam Bosson is the Warm Homes Peterborough Project Officer at Peterborough Environment City Trust.

Further References