Thanet council has been awarded £34,742 to crack down on landlords and letting agents renting out homes with sub standard insulation and energy ratings.
A ten week ‘Thanet Cold Homes Finder’ project will target those renting out poorly insulated and energy inefficient properties.
The funding was announced on Friday (January 3) as part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Private Rented Sector Innovation and Enforcement Grant Fund.
The project will tackle the issue of people living in cold homes. Two officers will work on the scheme to identify all privately rented homes in Thanet which have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. Unless exempt, privately rented homes should have an EPC rating of E or above.
The funding will be used to take enforcement action against the minority of landlords who let inadequate properties and to advise tenants of their housing rights. The aim is also to prevent excess winter deaths and lift people out of fuel poverty.
In 2016/17 there were 90 excess winter deaths recorded for Thanet, down from 120 the previous year. The same year Thanet recorded 12.3% of homes in fuel poverty – the highest in Kent.
Living in fuel poverty is defined as being on a lower income and being in a home which cannot be kept warm
at reasonable cost.
Excess winter deaths are defined as the difference between the number of deaths during the four winter months (December–March) and the average number of deaths during the preceding four months (August–November) and the following four months (April-July).
The message from the council is that landlords who rent out cold homes will be found out.
Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Helen Whitehead, said: “Excess cold causes more harm than any other hazard in the home environment. Tragically it accounts for many excess winter deaths each year. This funding will go some way to help us tackle this issue and means we will be able to undertake proactive work to identify those landlords whose properties do not meet the standards we expect for our residents.
“This project has the potential to really help people living in cold homes. A warmer home can mean better health and an improved energy performance could reduce fuel bills so the benefits are tangible ones. The funding is welcome news at this time of the year and will be released immediately so our teams can get on with the work right away.”
Thanet has around 66,892 homes, of which 17,271 (26%) are privately rented. This is significantly higher than the national average of 19%.
Much of the rented housing stock in Thanet was built prior to 1919 and is poorly insulated. As from April 1, privately rented homes cannot be let if they have an EPC rating of F or G, unless subject to statutory exemption. Tenancies which started on or after April 1, 2018 are already subject to this restriction.
The council appointed the Building Research Establishment (“BRE”) to carry out a private sector housing stock modelling exercise for Thanet in 2017. The report and its associated database suggested there were some 978 privately rented homes in Thanet that were subject to an EPC rating of F or G. This represents some 5.7% of the private rented stock.
The council is also recruiting a new full time Home Energy Officer who will work strategically across departments to promote energy efficiency measures in the private rented and owner occupied sectors. This follows the climate emergency declaration made by the authority last year.