UK renters more concerned over energy costs than rising rents

The rising cost of rent, particularly in today's market, has always been a major worry among renters. However, despite almost three-quarters of renters expressing concerns over rent rises, a greater number are growing increasingly worried about energy and food costs.

Related topics:  Tenants,  Rent,  Cost of Living
Property | Reporter
20th March 2023
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"With the introduction of the Renters' Reform Bill, rent rises are expected to be capped and one permitted per year"

Over 1,000 renters were surveyed by bridging loan broker, Finbri, to find out how the cost of living crisis is affecting them and discovered that, whilst the cost of rent was still a primary concern, 35% are more worried about their energy bills than they are about rising rental costs.

The UK Renters' Report found that:

79.92% of UK renters are either Concerned or Strongly Concerned about energy costs.
78.62% of UK renters are either Concerned or Strongly Concerned about food costs.
73.92% of UK renters are either Concerned or Strongly Concerned about increasing rent.

This data indicates that UK renters are more concerned about their energy and food costs than they are about increasing rent. Rising energy and food costs quickly add up and are a strain on household finances, whilst tenants' rights regarding rent increases are to be increased following the introduction of the Renters' Reform Bill.

What are the current EPC guidelines and what's to be expected?

Every time a property is rented out, an EPC is required by law. It assigns the building a grade, from A (the most efficient) to G (least efficient).

Currently, an E is the minimum EPC rating needed for a house to be rented out. This is only necessary, though, if the property was constructed before April 1, 2018. The minimum requirement is D for buildings constructed after this date. Beginning in April 2023, all privately rented homes in England and Wales must adhere to the government's MEES, which mandates an EPC grade of at least E.

How do landlords intend to improve energy efficiency in their properties?

To address tenants' rising costs and concerns, 48.05% of landlords intend to complete energy-performance improvements to their properties over the next 12 months. This news may relieve tenants as households are set to see costs soar further by about 40% from this April.

How can renters reduce their energy usage?

The survey also suggested that 37% of renters have reduced their energy usage to save money. Popular methods include using energy-efficient light bulbs, insulating windows and doors, switching off lights, unplugging electrical appliances, and taking shorter showers.

In response to the survey results, Finbri has put together some tips for renters looking to reduce their energy bills:

- Take advantage of government schemes like ECO and Warm Home Discounts.
- Shop around for a better energy deal - compare tariffs, and switch suppliers if necessary or possible.
- Ensure all windows and doors are properly sealed.
- Check for drafts around windows and doors. Use LED light bulbs where possible.
- Contact your energy provider to install a smart meter.

Increasing food costs and the UK economic outlook are concerning for UK renters

Food costs concern UK renters, with data from the Office for National Statistics showing that food and non-alcoholic beverage prices rose by 16.4% from the 12 months to October 2022, with households set to face an additional £788 hit to their annual grocery bill in 2023. These rising costs have 78.62% of UK renters Strongly concerned (39.76%) or Concerned (38.86%).

Additionally, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit households, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the UK to be the only major economy to shrink in 2023. Strongly concerned (36.96%) or Concerned (35.56%) about the UK economic outlook.

Final thoughts

Renters are increasingly concerned about the rising energy, food, and rent costs. With energy bills being one of the most significant sources of financial strain, it's important for renters to take steps to reduce their energy usage and switch to more cost-effective providers where possible. With the introduction of the Renters' Reform Bill, rent rises are expected to be capped and one permitted per year. Until then, it's important for renters to take advantage of government schemes and ensure they're doing all they can to reduce their energy costs.

Stephen Clark, from Finbri, comments: "Renters are continuing to experience financial difficulties, and energy bills are one of their primary sources of stress. Renters can take several steps to reduce their energy costs, including switching to a more cost-effective provider or reducing their usage through adopting greener habits such as unplugging devices when not in use.”

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