Energy Answers for First-Time Landlords
As a first-time landlord, effectively managing energy is advantageous for your tenants and property investment, impacting profits and sustainability. If you're navigating the complexities of energy management and whether to include energy costs in rent, this is the guide for you.
Landlords in the UK are likely well aware that proficient energy management is a crucial responsibility. It’s imperative to have a clear understanding of the significance of energy efficiency and the legal obligations attached to it.
By practising 'energy efficiency', you use less energy to achieve the same tasks, reducing energy consumption and associated costs. Recognising the importance of this benefits both you and your tenants. For you, it translates to lower operational expenses and improved profit margins. For tenants, it makes your property more appealing, especially to those concerned about environmental sustainability and cost savings.
Well-insulated properties offer greater comfort, with stable temperatures and fewer bothersome draughts. Additionally, they contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and a more favourable carbon footprint.
The UK Government has established specific responsibilities for landlords concerning energy management. It’s mandatory to hold an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which rates a property's energy efficiency on a scale from A to G. EPCs provide insights into a property's efficiency and potential enhancements.
Before tenants sign a tenancy agreement, you must provide them with a copy of the EPC. To legally rent out your property in England or Wales, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) require a minimum E rating.
The Inclusion or Exclusion of Energy Costs
When it comes to managing energy costs for your rental property, a crucial decision to make is whether to incorporate these costs into the rent or not. This decision holds significant implications for both you as a new landlord and your tenants, so let's examine the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
Including Costs into Rent
Tenants benefit from predictable monthly expenses as they don't have to contend with fluctuating utility bills. Since tenants aren't directly responsible for utility bills, you can reduce potential disputes or overdue payments.
Tenants may need more incentive to conserve energy since it doesn't directly impact their finances. This could lead to increased consumption and higher costs for you as the landlord. If your property could be more energy-efficient and you include costs in the rent, you may inadvertently cause your tenants to think you're overcharging them, potentially leading to dissatisfaction.
Excluding Costs from Rent
Excluding energy costs gives tenants a vested interest in conserving energy as they pay for their consumption. This can promote responsible usage and benefit both parties financially. Excluding energy costs also ensures that bills accurately reflect usage, which some may consider a fairer arrangement.
Managing separate bills and ensuring tenants set up accounts can be time-consuming and may entail additional work for you. There's also the potential for disputes if tenants are dissatisfied with their bills.
Ultimately, deciding to include or exclude energy costs from rent depends on various factors. Regardless of your choice, it’s crucial to communicate this clearly in the tenancy agreement to prevent misunderstandings.
Improving the energy efficiency of your rental property is not only a responsible choice but can also yield long-term financial benefits. The most effective approach is to ensure your property is adequately insulated, minimising unnecessary heat loss.
Always insulate lofts, walls, and floors, and ensure doors and windows are properly insulated. You shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of double glazing.
If appliances like refrigerators or washing machines are on the older side, consider investing in more modern alternatives. New appliances with smart features and LED lighting consume less electricity and gas, reducing costs and emissions.
Smart thermostats and meters allow precise, real-time management of energy usage, facilitating reduction in consumption. Consider installing these devices to enable tenants to control their heating schedules and unplug energy-hungry appliances.
To improve your energy efficiency further, explore the possibility of renewable energy use for your property. Evaluate the feasibility of installing solar panels to generate electricity and investigate heat pump solutions.
By investing in energy-efficient improvements, you not only enhance the value of your rental property but also make it a more attractive prospect. Additionally, energy-efficient homes contribute to a more sustainable future, aligning with the UK's commitment to achieving a net-zero society.
Fair and Accurate Billing
One of the initial considerations for energy billing is using separate meters for each rental unit. This ensures accurate measurement of each tenant's consumption, making billing more equitable and transparent. Ensure that each unit has individual electricity, gas, and water meters (where applicable) that tenants can monitor themselves.
To avoid potential disputes, clearly outline the billing process in the tenancy agreement. Specify when and how tenants will be billed for energy usage and provide information about local utility providers. This can be especially helpful for first-time renters or tenants who are new to the area.
If you include energy costs in the rent, ensure that the total amount accurately reflects the expected energy costs. For properties where tenants are responsible for their bills, ensure they receive regular utility bills so they can manage their usage and expenditure.
Effective communication with tenants is essential for the smooth operation of energy management. Address their questions or concerns promptly and encourage them to report any maintenance issues affecting energy efficiency, such as faulty boilers or draughty windows. Providing tenants with guidelines on energy-saving practices is also advisable.
How Can Landlords Save Money on Energy Bills?
With energy costs on the rise, landlords are looking for ways to save money on bills for their properties more than ever. At UKPower, we can help you compare gas, electricity and water suppliers to find the cheapest prices, switch to a better deal and cut the cost of your energy.
Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.