The Generation Rent activist group is currently urging for a modification in the Renters Reform Bill to support tenants in managing their energy expenses. According to the group’s assertion, five times more homeowners have received energy efficiency grants compared to private renters, despite tenants facing a significantly higher risk of fuel poverty. While fuel poverty has decreased by 35 percent among homeowners and 54 percent among council tenants since 2010, the activists claim that the improvement for private renters is merely four per cent.
The group’s statement emphasizes that Generation Rent is urging the government to enhance safeguards for private renters, providing them with greater protection against eviction and rent hikes. This measure aims to ensure that they can also access energy efficiency funding and thereby be motivated to apply for relevant grants.
The statement further reveals that one in four private renters currently faces fuel poverty, which is a higher rate compared to any other housing tenure. Surprisingly, despite there being three times more homeowners than private renters, the number of people experiencing fuel poverty (1.33 million) among homeowners is only slightly larger than the number of private renters in the same situation (1.19 million).
The implementation of energy efficiency measures, bringing a home up to EPC Band C, is crucial in lifting a household out of fuel poverty.
However, Generation Rent expresses dissatisfaction, asserting that homeowners have disproportionately received “the majority of grants” available for improving domestic energy efficiency.
According to the information provided, a significant hindrance to the acceptance of grants in the private rented sector lies in the lack of secure tenure. This situation enables landlords, whose properties undergo upgrades, to raise the rent, thereby negating any potential energy bill savings. Alternatively, they may choose to evict the tenant to sell the improved property.
While the Renters (Reform) Bill seeks to enhance tenant protection against arbitrary evictions, it still permits such practices to continue, offering little incentive for tenants to apply for a grant.
Generation Rent, which initially supported the Renters Reform Bill during its introduction into Parliament, is now urging the government to amend the Bill. The group’s main objective is to protect tenants who receive an energy efficiency grant.
They propose that tenants benefiting from such grants should be safeguarded from eviction for a period of six years and should not face any rent increase due to grant-funded property improvements.
The group also suggests that landlords should be obligated to raise the energy efficiency rating of their properties to a C grade, making it mandatory for them to accept grant-funded works aimed at improving energy efficiency.
Dan Wilson Craw, formerly the deputy director of Generation Rent and currently holding the title of deputy chief executive, voices concern over the allocation of these funds. According to him, the money designated to tackle fuel poverty is not reaching those who need it the most.
Many express understandable hesitation in providing funds to landlords who might gain profit from the situation. However, if the grants system continues to falter, it only prolongs tenants’ hardships and hinders our progress towards achieving climate targets.
By implementing measures that ensure the financial advantages of grants directly benefit the tenants, such as preventing evictions and rent hikes resulting from home improvements, we can significantly reduce carbon emissions and initiate advancements in renters’ living conditions.
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