We must reduce energy bills for tenants

Calling all tenants in Greater Cambridge: If your home has substandard energy efficiency let us know using this form, so we can work together to apply pressure to landlords and councils to improve it and reduce your bills before the Winter.

Many households, particularly the 52% of Cambridge households that are in rented accommodation, will be thinking nervously about the sky rocketing energy prices.

Although turning heating down and switching things off can be surprisingly effective at reducing energy bills, tenants and landlords should also check the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of the property.

Firstly, under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations, no home with an EPC rating of F or G can be let by a private landlord unless the landlord has registered with the council for an exemption and has spent £3500 trying to improve the energy efficiency. In July 21 Cambridge City Council produced a useful video for landlords here

EPCs are a blunt instrument, but they are still a very useful way of identifying substandard housing. We have been analysing the available data for the City of Cambridge. You can see the results from when we first did this in September 2019 here . We analysed it again in April 2022.

It is noticeable that most private landlords have upgraded their EPC F&G properties in the last few years, but we think that there are still 79 EPC F&G private rented homes in Cambridge city. Some are historic properties and may have an exemption, but others look truly horrible and badly in need of energy efficiency improvements.

Here is our map of where they are

If there are any errors in this map, please let us know and we’ll correct them

Most landlords are decent people so if your EPC is F or G, tell your landlord or their agent and ask them to see what can be done to improve it.

Secondly if the EPC is D, E, F or G, in Cambridge and South Cambs the“local authority delivery scheme” grants of up to £10K are available to improve energy efficiency, so long as your household’s gross income is less than £30,000 a year, or someone in the household is unemployed or on benefits. This would probably cover the cost of improving the EPC from G to D which would typically HALVE your heating costs.

Some private landlords are themselves worrying about increasing bills, so if you think you’re eligible, tell your landlord, so you/they can apply before the money runs out. Even if you’re not eligible for the grant, sometimes even relatively cheap things such as draught proofing doors and windows, topping up the loft insulation or installing cavity wall insulation will be enough to make a significant difference to your bills and carbon emissions.

We need to dramatically reduce the number of rented homes in Cambridge with substandard energy performance before winter.

Where landlords are not decent people, we want our councils to enforce the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards much more actively. They have EPC databases, so should start by contacting landlords to remind of their legal obligations and the availability of grants. Where landlords wilfully refuse to comply, the councils should send in the enforcement officers to do a thorough inspection. This may well reveal other health and safety hazards ranging from damp to overcrowding, which will allow them to levy large fines or even prosecute.

To increase the pressure on councils and landlords, we’re inviting people in Greater Cambridge to let us know if they know of a tenancy where the EPC is substandard so we can work together to help get them improved.

To join this campaign, or get help for your own tenancy, let us know using the form here