Crossed wires mean energy efficiency measures missed

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LANDLORDS and tenants fail to secure help to cut domestic fuel bills, says Tristan Stewart-Robertson

One in three renters of Scottish properties do not ask their landlord for energy efficiency improvements because they presume investment will not be made, according to a new survey.

Tenants are missing out on around £400 a year in savings by not getting upgrades from private landlords, despite two thirds wanting changes.

Nearly one in ten asked for energy saving modifications but none has been made, said the research by energy firm E.ON.

But landlords have said they are keen to make such investments and want to see more direction from the Scottish Government, as opposed to green schemes for tenants or homeowners.

The survey found that one in ten households was missing out on the savings and 34 per cent did not believe their landlords would make improvements because they did not want to spend money on the home. Another 13 per cent believed their landlords thought it was the tenant’s responsibility to make changes.

David Bird, customer operations director at E.ON, said: “What’s clear is that there’s some confusion surrounding energy efficiency and who the responsibility should lay with in making rental property energy fit.

“We’d urge both renters and landlords to think seriously about making improvements to their properties. In some cases, renters can be eligible for free cavity wall and loft insulation, and costs for installation can often be much cheaper than you’d think, so always speak to your energy provider to make sure you’re aware of all the offers available.”

The survey, of just under 1,000 people in Scotland, found 57 per cent believe it is their landlord’s responsibility to ensure their property is energy efficient, compared to 11 per cent who thought it was up to the renter. More than a third believed the law should be tighter to put pressure on landlords.

But John Blackwood, director of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said members are constantly asking when government schemes to help improvements will be forthcoming.

He said: “We believe a lot of landlords are interested in making energy saving work, but feel not enough is being offered to private landlords to upgrade their properties because the focus is on tenants.

“A lot of tenants are not seeing their home as long term, so maybe they are not raising the issue with landlords. We need more incentive and for the government to provide avenues for landlords to access.”

Blackwood said there was significant interest before Christmas in putting in solar panels and landlords were hopeful for another boiler-scrapage scheme in the near future.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said they offered a number of ways to make homes more energy efficient, including £4.7 million for the boiler scrappage scheme last year, £500,000 in vouchers to private landlords, and the home insulation scheme run by local authorities.

She said: “Landlords are encouraged to seek advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.

“The Energy Assistance Package, which offers free expert energy advice for everyone, has offered advice to over 200,000 households, reduced annual fuel bills by almost £12m since 2009 and delivered heating measures to over 20,000 homes.”

The survey was based on a presumed 1940s three bed semi, with a ten-year-old gas boiler, but E.ON accepted there would be considerable variation across Scotland.