Energy-conscious landlords could be a surprise new force in the government’s drive towards carbon reduction and energy conservation

[UKPRwire, Tue May 19 2009] For, according to new research, nearly half the UK’s private sector landlords are now considering energy efficiency before investing in new properties to let.

And it’s becoming a deciding factor for tenants, too, before they decide which property to rent.

The Residential Landlords Association - whose members own over 100,000 private rented properties throughout the UK – is asking the government to take the private rented sector more into account during its sustainable energy and carbon reduction programme.

“We were disappointed with the Chancellor’s budget – which seemed to make money available to everyone except private sector landlords despite their growing commitment to energy conservation,” says Dave Princep of the RLA Local Government Liaison Group.

Dave is also chair of the Private Rented Sector Group for the government-funded Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes - which commissioned Harris Interactive to carry out the latest research among commercial and residential landlords, single property buy-to-letters and private sector tenants.

That’s when a new picture emerged - showing landlord and tenant interest in energy conservation running at an all-time high.

At a time when 19 per cent of the UK population lives in privately rented homes, heating costs and insulation have become deciding factors when choosing a property.

The Harris poll reveals that location is still a tenant’s No.1 priority but five out of the remaining eight top reasons for choosing a property are all energy-related. A total 98.5 per cent look for central heating, 83.5 per cent for double glazing, 72.5 per cent for gas, electricity or oil economy, 68.6 per cent for insulation and 68.3 per cent for general warmth.

And Energy Performance Certificates – introduced last October – have become ways of comparing properties before tenancy agreements are signed.

An overall 58 per cent of landlords, too, are concerned about energy efficiency in their rental properties and a rising number – 44 per cent - say they now ‘always’ consider energy efficiency before investing in new ones.

They believe that energy conservation reduces maintenance costs as well as the length of time that properties stay unoccupied. And keeping tenants warm and comfortable increases a property’s rental value, achieves higher resale value and reduces harm to the environment.

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Ninety-two per cent of landlords have already installed some energy efficiency measures. The main ones are double glazing (80 per cent), programmable heating controls (75 per cent) and loft insulation (73 per cent) followed by low energy lighting, draught-proofed windows and doors, tank jackets, high energy efficiency boilers, energy efficient appliances, cavity wall, solid wall and floor insulation.

It’s all a far cry from 2005 when an earlier research project suggested that private landlords did not see energy efficiency as their concern and were more focussed on maximising profits and increasing the value of their investments.

“The property letting industry has moved on a lot, since then,” says Dave Princep, “yet the private sector is still largely being ignored by the government.”

Last month, the Chancellor Alistair Darling’s budget announced a legally binding 34 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 and ploughed £365 million into increasing energy efficiency in business, public buildings, social housing and domestic households over next two years. But hardly any of this was aimed at the private rented sector.

“This area has very limited financial assistance and needs more government incentives, greater tax allowances for making properties more energy efficient and a voluntary code of practice for landlords not to let properties that are below a certain energy standard,” adds Dave.

“The Residential Landlords Association has responded to government consultation on this. We are keen not only to represent the views of increasingly energy-conscious landlords but to secure assistance and support for them that reflects their commitment.”

• The Residential Landlords Association is a leading national organisation with members owning over 100,000 properties in the UK’s professional private rented sector. The range of members’ services - on - includes legal advice, insurance, financial services, credit referencing and training.

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Notes to editors

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