Private renters in Northampton are paying more for electricity and heating than those in social housing, figures reveal

Picture: Press AssociationPicture: Press Association
Picture: Press Association
Private renters in Northampton are paying significantly more for electricity and heating than those in social housing, new figures suggest, as their homes are less energy efficient.

Campaign group Generation Rent says private renters have put up with draughty homes for too long as lax regulations mean landlords can avoid making improvements.

Energy Performance Certificates provide information on the energy efficiency of a building, and are required when a property is built, sold or let.

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Homes are rated from zero to 100, with a higher score reflecting more energy efficiency.

The median score for privately rented flats with a rating in Northampton was 72 in 2018-19, compared to 74 for those rented by social landlords, Office for National Statistics data shows.

The median is a measure of the average which takes the middle of a range of figures, meaning it will not be skewed by exceptionally low or high ratings.

The estimated median energy cost – those for lighting, heating and hot water – for private renters was £534 a year, much more than the £407 for social rented flats.

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The figures do not cover all homes in the area, only those with a known EPC rating – the ONS estimates that 58% had a certificate at the end of March last year.

For privately rented houses the median EPC score was 64, while it was 71 for social renters.

Median energy bills came in at £828 and £655 respectively – a difference of £173.

Northampton mirrored the national picture – the median score across England was 68 for private rent flats compared to 73 for social rent, with bills at £567 and £461 respectively.

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For houses it was 63 (£849) for private rental and 68 (£667) for social lets.

Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent, said: “Private renters have had to put up with draughty homes for far too long, because there hasn’t been much of a carrot or a stick for landlords to insulate their properties.

“Even with recent Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, landlords get an exemption if it would cost too much to make the necessary improvements.”

He said the recently announced Green Homes Grant, whereby homeowners – including landlords – can get financial help to make energy efficiency upgrades, was an opportunity to make thousands of rented homes more comfortable.

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The Government will pay vouchers of up to £5,000 – or £10,000 for some low-earners – to cover up to two-thirds of the cost of work done by approved tradespeople.

“But the Government hasn’t told us how it will make sure the money goes to people who need it most,” Mr Wilson Craw added.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said new homes of all types are significantly more energy efficient than most older housing.

He added: “We are improving the quality of housing across the country by ensuring new homes adhere to strict energy efficiency standards, giving councils powers to deal with dangerous damp in privately rented homes, and enabling renters to take landlords who fail to provide decent living conditions to court.

“We’ve also introduced Green Homes Grants, worth up to £10,000, to help cover energy efficiency improvements, meaning hundreds of thousands of homes will be warmer and safer this winter.”

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