More than half of private renters living in cold, damp or mouldy homes

damp and mouldy wall next to radiator
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New research from Citizens Advice shows 1.6 million children currently live in privately rented homes with damp, mould or excessive cold.

The analysis suggests more than half of private renters in England – 2.7 million households – are struggling with one or more of these issues right now.

The problem is especially bad in the least energy efficient homes; private tenants are 73% more likely to be living with damp if they live in a property with a Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D-G rather than A-C.

While tenants are 89% more likely to experience excessive cold in a D-G rated property than A-C.

The average private sector tenant in England is paying £350 more a year on heating because of poorly insulated and damp homes, while those in the least efficient properties are paying an extra £950. With energy bills set to rise again in April, those in the least efficient homes could pay £1,190 more a year to keep warm.

Living in poor quality housing has an affect on people’s health and 40% of renters say they have felt stressed as a result of damp, mould and excessive cold, with 36% saying it made them feel anxious.

Citizens Advice is calling on the government to bring regulation of the private rental sector in line with social housing by following the lead set by Awaab’s law. A piece of legislation which will place strict, legally binding timelines on social landlords to deal with serious issues such as damp and mould.

The charity says the government must follow through on its promise to make sure all new private rental properties are upgraded to a minimum EPC C by 2025 and existing tenancies by 2028.

Landlords are currently only required to bring their properties up to an E rating. Currently, landlords currently don’t have to make any improvements if it’s going to cost them more than £3,500. This cap on landlord investment needs to be increased from £3,500 to £10,000.

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.

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.

elemental is running a series of webinars on healthy homes next week, check out our Crowdcast channel for more information.