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More than half of private renters suffer with cold, damp or mouldy housing – Citizens Advice

  • 21/02/2023
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More than half of private renters suffer with cold, damp or mouldy housing – Citizens Advice
Around 2.7 million homes, more than half of private renters in England, are struggling with cold, damp or mould, with many suffering from more than one of these issues.

Research from Citizens Advice found that around 1.6 million children were currently living in private rented homes with damp, mould or excessive cold.

It added that the problem was exacerbated by less energy efficiency homes, with nearly three quarters or private tenants more likely to live with damp if the property had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) between D and G rather than A to C.

Citizens Advice added that 89 per cent of tenants were more likely to experience extreme cold if they lived in a D to G-rated property as opposed to an A to C-rated property.

The organisation also noted private tenants were paying around £350 more on heating per year due to poorly insulated or damp homes and those in the least energy efficient properties were shelling out an extra £950 per year.

With energy bills expected to rise further in April, those in the least energy efficient properties could pay around £1,190 more a year to stay warm.

Around 40 per cent of renters said they have felt stressed due to damp, mould and excessive cold, and over a third said that it made them feel anxious.


Government needs to take action on EPC ratings and housing standards

Citizens Advice has called on the government to bring forward legislation that would bring the private rented sector in-line with social housing by applying the same standards set out by Awaab’s Law.

Awaab’s Law, which is a tabled amendment to the Social Housing Regulation Act, would require social housing landlords to fix health hazards such as damp and mould in strict timeframes.

The amendment was introduced following the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died as a result of mould in his family home last year, despite complaints to the housing association about poor conditions.

The organisation has also urged the government to follow through on its promise to mandate that all new tenancies should have an EPC rating of C or higher by 2025 and for all tenancies by 208.

The Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings Bill has had its first reading in the House of Commons, and is currently awaiting its second reading.

Citizens Advice said that landlords were only required to bring properties up to an E rating, and they don’t have to make improvements that cost more than £3,500.

The organisation said this cap should be increased to £10,000, and this, along with changes noted above, would ensure homes were “fit for purpose” and “no tenants are paying with their health for living in a damp, cold and mouldy home”.

Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Every week we hear stories of people living in cold, damp and mouldy properties they can’t afford to heat properly.

“It’s shameful that more than 20 years since legislation came into force to reduce fuel poverty and improve the energy performance of homes, people are still suffering.”

She added: “Improving energy efficiency in privately rented homes has never been more urgent. It’s the step needed to keep people’s essential bills low, while also helping to protect their mental and physical health.”

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