Industry News Sally Walmsley 17/01/2022

Saving energy - how to support your tenants

Whether your rental comes with or without bills included, providing an energy efficient home is likely to make your property warmer and cheaper to run, both of which will make it more attractive to potential tenants.

This week marks Big Energy Saving Week, a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to.

The eighth annual event aims to raise awareness of how to switch energy supplier or tariff to get the best deal, access discounts and make homes energy efficient.

Organisers Citizens Advice, the Energy Saving Trust and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are running the campaign, which comes after it was revealed there has been a 40% increase in people looking for help on fuel debts in recent months.

Citizens Advice revealed the figure last week, and is now calling on the Government to provide one-off grants to support families on the lowest income to pay their bills.

It said further rises to the energy price cap in April will put energy bills as a proportion of benefit levels at a generational high and tip many more into hardship, with a single adult spending a third of their basic rate of Universal Credit on energy bills.

The energy price cap, which sets default tariffs, is estimated to mean average bills rise by £700 in April - over a 50% increase. Around 11 million households on default tariffs will see their bills increase straight away. 

What can I do to help?

If your tenants are struggling with utilities bills you can advise them to:

  • Use thermostats and timers to control when heating is on and for how long
  • Use a smart meter to find out more about how and when they are using the most energy
  • Use a price comparison site to find out if they can access a cheaper deal.

Financial support is also available to some tenants who may have fallen behind on payments.

These include:

  • Cold weather payments
  • Winter fuel payments
  • The Warm Home discount scheme.

A number of energy suppliers also offer their own grant schemes to support struggling households. Localised grants are also available in some areas of the country.

If you think your tenant may be eligible for any of this support you can signpost them to Citizens Advice, which has full details of support packages available and links to the relevant sites. Find out more here.

If tenants have fallen into arrears with utilities bills the best advice you can give them is to get in contact with their energy provider, which should be able to help them come up with an affordable repayment plan.

Change up ahead

Energy efficiency is set to become a huge issue for landlords in the months and years ahead. The NRLA is currently awaiting the Government’s response to its Minimum Energy Efficiency Regulations consultation, which was held last year and proposes a minimum EPC C rating for new private rented sector tenancies from 2025.

With change on the way the NRLA is campaigning for:

  • more targeted funding and financing for landlords
  • energy efficiency work carried out by landlords to be tax deductible
  • a building renovation passport to replace EPCs.

The NRLA, along with Propertymark has commissioned research by think-tank Localis into the relative cost of retrofitting in relation to property values across the country. Its report Lagging Behind highlights how much they vary. The NRLA is now using the findings to back up its calls for targeted financial support.

More information

For more information on energy bills and smart meters click here.

To read more about energy efficiency and the cost cap read a blog by NRLA policy director Chris Norris here.

To find out more about the NRLA’s energy efficiency campaign click here.

To view the NRLA’s suite of documents on energy efficiency click here.

The NRLA runs a course on energy efficiency, covering relevant legislation and regulations, funding streams, exemptions and much for. For more information click here.

Citizens Advice offers a price comparison tool to compare prices from different energy suppliers which can be accessed here. It also offers a booklet offering advice on how to cut your bills which can be accessed here.

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley Magazine and Digital Editor

Sally is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

See all articles by Sally Walmsley