How can landlords help keep tenants warm during the cost of living crisis?
The cost of living crisis is set to hit renters hard. In this blog, Viessmann looks at the ways landlords can help to keep their tenants warm this winter.
With both domestic and global factors to blame, people across the UK are starting to feel the squeeze of the cost of living crisis. A perfect storm of increasing utility bills and the highest inflation rates for 40 years - which has caused the cost of basic necessities like food and clothing to soar - is pushing not only the poorest in society to breaking point, but also those on low to middle incomes.
For landlords, the cost of living crisis is worrying for a number of reasons. Not only do they have to worry about their own financial situations, they may also feel a certain level of responsibility for their tenants. This is not without justification. According to the Office for National Statistics, renters are more likely than homeowners to report difficulty in paying housing costs.
So, this raises the question - what can landlords do to help their tenants? From investing in more efficient central heating systems for their properties to checking in with tenants more regularly, in this guide we look at some of the best ways landlords can help their tenants to stay warm during the cost of living crisis.
Check in with your tenants
Before making any practical changes, the quickest and easiest way a landlord can help their tenants is just by checking in with them. With talk of the cost of living crisis almost inescapable at the moment, the simple act of keeping civil communication going can make a huge difference. If, for example, after talking with a tenant you discover that they are struggling financially, you may be able to come to an agreement where rent payments are reduced or staggered during winter to allow your tenants to service their utility bills as a priority, ensuring they stay warm.
You could also make your tenants aware of any government legislation, schemes or relief programmes that may be available to them. By familiarising yourself with this kind of support, you can pass the information on to your tenants, who may be able to benefit. This could range from government support with utility bills, to council tax reduction schemes and/or knowledge relating to local food banks.
How to make a rental property more energy efficient
When it comes to practical changes you can make to help your tenants, making your properties more energy efficient is paramount. This will have the obvious benefit of helping to lower their energy bills.. Below we take a look at some of the easiest ways to make rental properties more energy efficient.
Wall, floor and loft insulation is crucial in keeping a building warm. In uninsulated domestic properties, as much as a third of all heat is lost through the walls and ceilings. This means your property’s central heating system has to work harder than it should to compensate for heat that is being lost. Naturally, this could equate to your tenants having to use the central heating system more regularly, costing them more.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, tenants could save as much as £300 per year on their heating bills through the use of wall insulation alone. This will naturally increase with the addition of floor and ceiling insulation. By investing in the installation of energy efficient insulation in your properties, you can not only help to keep your tenants’ heating bills low, you can also reduce your property portfolio’s carbon footprint.
Energy efficient central heating
Did you know that heating and hot water production accounts for half of the average home’s energy spending? With this in mind, another way landlords can help keep their tenants warm this winter is by ensuring their properties make use of energy efficient, cost-effective central heating systems. If a property’s boiler is a traditional gas boiler that is more than 10 years old, the chances are it is not very energy efficient. If this is the case, landlords could consider upgrading to a more efficient boiler, or even a heat pump central heating system.
Even a simple upgrade to a more efficient condensing boiler could help your tenants stay warmer this winter, as well as saving them money. From a cost saving perspective, this is a no brainer. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average household could make energy savings of 70% per year when an old gas boiler is upgraded to a new A-rated condensing boiler.
Double glazed windows
Like poorly insulated properties, homes with old, single glazed windows are not very energy efficient. Landlords who are serious about helping their tenants stay warm during colder months should consider installing double or triple glazed windows in their properties if they are currently only single glazed. Double and triple glazing is better at stopping heat escape, meaning homes can be kept warm more easily. However, there are other advantages too.
Aside from saving your tenants money on their heating bills and keeping them warmer thanks to improved efficiency, better glazed windows can also reduce condensation. This means the property is better protected against dampness, which is good for both the health of your tenants and the condition of your properties.
Smart meters allow your tenants to actually see how much energy they are using as they use it. This allows energy companies to bill your tenants for what they use and not charge them based on estimates. It also means people can more easily keep track of their energy usage, potentially encouraging better energy habits. For many households, the installation of a smart meter has seen a quick reduction in bills.
From a landlord’s point of view, this is a way of helping your tenants save money and potentially stay warmer this winter that won’t cost you a penny. Smart meters are installed and maintained by energy companies totally free of charge. As the landlord of the property, all you have to do is liaise with your tenants and give formal permission for the installation to go ahead.
The ongoing cost of living crisis means it's going to be a difficult winter for many families, including for those in rented accommodation and landlords. However, by keeping lines of communication open and working together to find energy efficiencies and ways to cut costs, landlords can not only protect their investments, but also help to keep their tenants warm this winter.