What’s top of a landlord’s agenda? Most would say that it’s finding good tenants who pay their rent on time. The environment, sadly, can sometimes be a bit of an afterthought. But what if landlords knew that eco-friendly properties are better at attracting tenants, keeping tenants, and justifying higher rents?
The truth is that landlords should be tickled pink at the prospect of going green. Sustainability now tops many people’s agenda – especially those under the age of 35 who are more likely to rent. Just as consumers are more likely to choose sustainable products, eco-minded tenants are more likely to choose sustainable properties too.
But how should landlords go about making their properties eco-friendly? Here are our top ten tips. Fortunately, you don’t have to gut a property and renovate with eco-friendly materials to reduce its carbon footprint…
1. Boost energy efficiency
Landlords can save energy by swapping old appliances with new energy-efficient ones and servicing the boiler so that it runs more efficiently. They could also consider replacing their boiler with a more eco-friendly one. Although the government’s Green Homes Grant was scrapped, landlords might qualify for a grant from their local authority to do this.
Agents should also advise against including utility bills in the rent. Tenants are more mindful of their energy use if they’re paying for it directly. Finally, landlords should recommend a green energy provider offering a great value tariff. Big Clean Switch is the place to find this.
2. Ditch gas?
Electric boilers are more eco-friendly than their gas-driven cousins. Why? Because they lose almost no energy during operation. Having said that, they’re better suited to smaller homes.
For larger properties, landlords can pump up their property’s sustainability credentials by installing an air source or ground source heat pump. They’re brilliant low-carbon sources of energy and remarkably cost-effective to run. Installing solar panels, if there’s room, is another excellent way to boost a home’s EPC rating.
3. Open up to new windows
Double or triple glazing is a must these days. New windows can reduce heat loss, make rooms easier to heat, and cut energy bills. However, there are other cunning ways to improve a window’s energy performance too. For example, coatings on the glass and better insulation can all make a difference. Landlords shouldn’t forget to check new windows’ performance rating before they buy.
4. Drafts are the enemy
Dastardly drafts drift through houses and give tenants the chills. Did you know that 40% of a home’s heat is lost through doors, windows, and floors? Luckily you can rectify the problem with some adroit DIY. Self-adhesive foam strips (or even plastic strips) can seal windows, brush strips work a treat at the bottom of doors, and silicone-based filler or caulk can fill gaps between the skirting and floorboards.
5. Change the light bulbs
Don’t live in the dark ages. LEDs are up to 80% more efficient than traditional light bulbs. They also last longer and emit more light. Landlords can also improve eco-friendliness by installing smart lighting. Motion sensors trigger the lights when someone enters a room. The lights then go off after periods of inactivity.
6. Take the heat off
Heat in winter warms the cockles. But it’s easy to waste energy if thermostats aren’t in good working order. Smart heating can save energy too. It lets tenants adjust the central heating on their phones and programme different temperatures for the rooms they use most. Zone controls, where different rooms are heated at different times of the day, can also reduce waste.
7. Water features
Saving water is a great way to make waves in the lettings market. So resist the temptation to install high-pressure showers that empty water tanks faster than you can say, “switch the immersion on”. Modern eco-friendly showerheads will save water whilst still delivering good water pressure.
8. Insulation matters
All properties must have good quality insulation or energy bills will go through the roof, literally: 25% of home’s heat is lost through rooftops. Landlords should therefore check what’s in place. If there’s nothing installed, or the existing insulation is 150mm (6 inches) or less, then add another layer to bring it up to the recommended 270mm.
Landlords might be able to secure funding for roof and cavity wall insulation from their local authority. After all, the UK will struggle to meet its climate change targets unless 19 millions homes improve their insulation in the near future.
9. Be proactive
Being sustainable means taking the initiative. Therefore, there’s no time like the present to dig out a property’s EPC and finally make the suggested changes to boost environmental performance. And if the kitchen doesn’t include a recycling bin then help out by installing one. Landlords should also think about tenants’ transport needs. Electric car sales rose by 43% last year; so now’s the time to install a charging point.
10. It’s good to talk
Landlords should also create an on-going dialogue with their tenants. For example, why not ask them to share data about their energy use? This information can help to improve a home’s energy efficiency.
Meanwhile, although ‘green leases’ are more common in the commercial rental sector, residential landlords could consider adding green clauses to their tenancy agreements. This would give both the landlord and tenant certain responsibilities when it comes to energy use and waste reduction.
Improving a property’s EPC is as easy as ABC. And with the government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards already prohibiting the letting of properties rated below E, the importance of sustainability is only going to increase in the future.
So why not act now before more legislation is introduced? Creating a green rental property will not only help to attract tenants; it should boost a home’s value and increase landlords’ return on investment. Sustainability and profitability cohabit amazingly well.
To discover our top sustainability tips for agents, please download our Sold On Sustainability Guide here.