A lettings expert and tenant’s rights campaigner has warned that any progress on climate change as a result of the COP26 agreement is likely to be undermined by dodgy landlords.
Some 22% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions stem from domestic properties – and privately-rented homes are officially the least energy-efficient of the national housing stock – pumping out 11 megatonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
Ajay Jagota, founder of online claims management firm Veriwise, believes evidence from the company’s clients suggests that some landlords’ unwillingness to make basic repairs to their properties means they are ‘highly unlikely’ to invest in the necessary energy efficiency measures to improve the situation.
Despite national targets aiming to ensure every home in Britain has a minimum energy efficiency rating of band C by the end of 2030, the government’s own figures show that if the number of privately rented properties currently believed to have the lowest possible energy efficiency ratings were put together it would create a city the size of Sunderland, Norwich or Peterborough.
Approximately 3.2 million privately rented properties in England and Wales currently have an EPC rating of D or below, with 18% of privately rented households living in fuel poverty – compared to 8% of owner-occupied homes.
Jagota comments: “Every day we’re contacted by renters who can’t afford to turn the heating on, whose heating doesn’t work in the first place, or who can’t keep their homes warm because all the heat goes straight out of a broken window.”
“But we’re expecting the landlords who won’t fix broken windows and who are happy for their tenants to sit day in day out in damp and drafty homes to turn around and invest in heat pumps and hydrogen boilers – it’s not so much unrealistic as fantastical.”
“At Veriwise we hear cases of neglect and disrepair you would not believe – in every corner of the country there are renters asking questions like ‘’ and ‘how long can my landlord leave me without heating?’ or ‘does my landlord have to fix a broken front door?”
He adds: “Renting regulations even make it unlawful to let a property with an EPC rating below E – but national figures show that there are 89,000 such rented properties. Who is enforcing those regulations? Verwise was created to make sure every renter gets justice and a warm home – regardless of their ability to pay.”
Veriwise takes on housing disrepair claims on behalf of renters, negotiating with councils or private landlords to get property maintenance issues fixed quickly and claim compensation for renters from landlords. In cases where the landlord does not comply Veriwise have a panel of solicitors who can take the case to court to ensure the landlord complies and pays any compensation.
All renters have to do is submit the issues they are experiencing with their rented home online, allowing Veriwise to identify legal breaches and follow them up with landlords to rapidly resolve the issue and seek compensation where appropriate.