As we reach the halfway point of 2012, with the English summer producing a typical mix of sunshine and torrential downpours, thoughts of ice and snow are firmly out of the heads of all right-minded people. Well, almost all. Planning ahead is never a bad idea, so here's a few things to consider in the lead-up to next winter:
Tenants who live in the coldest privately-rented homes, which lose heat through windows, walls, and doors, are forced into a situation where they have to pay higher fuel bills. They rely on their landlord to make their properties energy efficient. Approximately 680,000 private tenants who live in these coldest homes (those that are given an energy rating of F or G) pay something like £488 a year for wasted energy!
Over 40% of these tenants are in fuel poverty. Naturally, people are desperate to make savings on their fuel bills, but the problem of living in privately-rented accommodation is that the tenants options are limited by their landlords. It is a good idea to have a word with your tenants to see if there's any agreement that can be reached on making their home warmer.
Opening a dialogue with tenants on this subject is important because often tenants are unsure of their rights, and may even be afraid to raise the issue with their landlord, not wanting to endanger their tenancy for complaining.
As bill payers, your tenants may be entitled to free or discounted loft or wall cavity insulation, but they'll need your permission to have it installed. Let them know that you'd be happy to have free insulation installed. After all, it will add value to your property, so it is to your mutual benefit.
As things currently stand, by 2018 it will be illegal to let, or market to let, a property that falls below an energy efficiency rating of EPC Band E without it being improved. However, efforts are being made by Friends of the Earth and Citizens Advice to have this brought forward to 2016.
Sometimes it can seem awful having to strike a balance between making profit and the well-being of tenants, but, as an incentive, if you pay for energy saving improvements for your buy-to-let property, then as a landlord you may be entitled to a tax allowance called Landlord's Energy Saving Allowance.
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