Anti-landlord activists have criticized PM Rishi Sunak over energy efficiency. Generation Rent claims that government inaction on regulating landlords discourages almost 50% of private renters from seeking grants to improve home energy efficiency. Concerns about rent increases, evictions, or landlord refusals deter 48% of private renters, rising to 53% for those on housing benefit or Universal Credit, who are already vulnerable to fuel poverty.
However, it’s worth noting that Generation Rent’s data comes from their supporters in the private rented sector and the survey was conducted in June and July 2023, predating Sunak’s revised stance on energy efficiency measures.
The cancellation of minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) by the Prime Minister means landlords are no longer obligated to accept government-funded insulation works. Generation Rent conducted a survey before this cancellation, suggesting that the absence of enforcement may undermine the effectiveness of government grants, previously promoted by Rishi Sunak.
The activists also assert that one in four private renter households faces fuel poverty, a rate higher than in social housing and owner-occupied properties. In a survey conducted in July, Generation Rent asked 914 respondents, who appear to be supporters rather than randomly selected tenants, about factors discouraging them from seeking grants.
Their responses indicated that 29% were concerned their landlord would refuse, 28% feared rent hikes negating energy savings, and 17% believed their landlord might sell the improved property.
Generation Rent is urging all political parties to commit to raising minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) to Band C at the earliest feasible opportunity. They also advocate for strengthened tenant protections regarding evictions and rents to ensure tenants benefit from resulting energy savings.
According to Dan Wilson Craw, the group’s deputy chief executive, tenants residing in poorly insulated homes currently incur hundreds of pounds in additional annual costs. While the government has allocated funding to combat fuel poverty, it may not reach enough households without clear landlord responsibilities for improvements.
Wilson Craw added that the government could have taken additional measures to reassure tenants about the benefits of green grants. Considering the tight timeline, they could have postponed the new standards’ implementation by a few years. However, by entirely scrapping the new regulations, the government has exacerbated the situation, resulting in renters enduring cold homes that exacerbate financial and health challenges for years to come.
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