A plea to London’s new Mayor Sadiq Khan: The plight of many thousands of people in rented accommodation who are suffering from fuel poverty is in your hands.
We welcome your pledge to improve energy efficiency in your election manifesto. Now is the time to deliver on that promise as a matter of great importance.
As the London Assembly Environment Committee met for the last time this week before the summer recess, we know that one of its areas of focus when it returns in September will be fuel poverty in the city, particularly with the renewed Mayoral commitment to support those struggling in cold homes.
Earlier this year and since Sadiq Khan’s election, Generation Rent, along with a number of other campaigning groups, has been calling for a step change in how London politics approaches poorly insulated homes in the private rented sector (PRS) that goes beyond current policy and practice.
The most recent fuel poverty statistics showed that the overall national picture continues to see much higher levels of fuel poverty in the private rented sector (19%), as opposed to for owner-occupiers (7%) or those living in social housing (10-11%). In London, where the PRS continues to grow rapidly and rents also rising, focusing on this tenure is particularly urgent.
Generation Rent regularly hears from a wide range of private renters, including many families, who know that their homes require major improvements to make them warmer, drier and healthier, but need changes to the law to make that happen.
Sadiq Khan was elected on a manifesto to increase Londoners’ energy efficiency, and this must include measures to protect private renters from damp and draughty homes through pushing up standards in the PRS.
Along with Friends of the Earth, Association for the Conservation of Energy, NUS, Age UK, and Fuel Poverty Action, Generation Rent has been calling for a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes, of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2025.
This would go beyond the current national minimum standards which will be fully in place by 2018, and was also endorsed by Boris Johnson in 2014.
Within the London context, a new standard could be made genuinely effective by tying it to landlord licensing. The Mayoral team is currently in negotiations with central government on devolving housing powers, and one they must continue to press for is approval over landlord licensing schemes in the PRS.
Gaining this would then allow London to move towards licensing of all privately rented properties which included a condition that all held an EPC of Band C.
The Environment Committee at the GLA is due to discuss fuel poverty in depth at its November meeting. By that point, we will be in the midst of another winter with hundreds of thousands of renters in London struggling to heat their homes, with rising rents and little funding for proactive home improvements.
In the meantime, all parties at City Hall should be working with the Mayor and central government to push for the energy efficiency standards that are needed for London. The need is proven, and with a new Mayor, we hope the political will is also present. In the country’s richest city, with a booming property industry, ending fuel poverty must be a goal that is within reach.
Written by Seb Klier London Campaigns Manager at Generation Rent
Generation Rent is the national housing campaign for private tenants. We work towards an affordable, decent and secure private rented sector through policy development, advocacy and community organising. To find out more and get involved, see generationrent.org