Helping tenants live in warmer homes

In terms of energy poverty, it seems that most tenants who live in rented properties are at the mercy of their landlords.

Typically a home’s heating system will need to be close to death before a landlord will even consider replacing it – this is on the whole because it costs them money to change, but they themselves aren’t directly impacted by it.

If a boiler has a gas safe certificate, then in landlord’s eyes, they will feel they are doing everything they are required to do by law; fortunately as a tenant you have something else on your side although we can’t promise it will help every time.

All rental properties must meet minimum standards

All homes rented by landlords must reach a certain standard to be considered habitable – one of the key criteria of this standard is that properties must display a reasonable degree of thermal comfort, including a decent heating system as well as sufficient insulation.

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Old floor mounted boilers are usually much less efficient than modern condensing models.

Therefore as a tenant, you can take legal action against your landlord over disrepair – although we really do recommend this only as a last resort.

There are a few issues that are worth highlighting if you do decide to go this route:

  • Legal action can be expensive – although you may be eligible for help with legal costs under the legal aid scheme, but this is only available if there is a serious risk to you or a family member’s health.
  • Prior to taking any action, you must check the landlord is responsible for the repairs, you have reported the problem and they have had time to act upon your request.
  • In addition, the moment you take legal action, in theory your landlord can kick you out.
  • Disrepair will only help get the heating system repaired – it will not get it upgraded to a newer more efficient system.

So what other options do you have?

In our opinion the best way to go about getting the heating system replaced is finding a way to minimise the replacement costs for the landlord. This obviously makes it more palatable for them to make the change and you as a tenant will benefit from a more efficient system. One way to do this is to use Green Deal finance as a mechanism to pay for the measure. Under this scheme, you can leverage the future energy savings (from replacing the heating system) to provide finance to pay towards the install cost.

We appreciate that this is not perfect, since the bill payer (normally the tenant) will pay for the measure to be installed, however the key mechanism of the scheme (known as the golden rule) is that the bill payer doesn’t pay more on their energy bills after getting the measure installed. To give an example of this – say for example the energy bill prior to getting a new boiler installed was £100 a month and then the new energy efficient boiler was installed and the bills fell to £80 a month (because they are more efficient at turning gas into hot water) then you would be able to get finance on the other £20 – so your new bill would be £100 a month made up of £80 gas and £20 green deal finance.

Get the easy wins with your landlord

Boilers are expensive to replace, but there are other ways to make a house warmer. You can check to see if you are eligible for free insulation schemes which could mean free cavity wall and loft insulation. These really do help keep your house warm, and the Landlord is much more likely to approve because it doesn’t cost them anything.

This won’t work for everyone but it might just help a few who are in really desperate need! If you would like to see if it can work for you – call us today on 0208 144 0897.