Southampton City Council is helping to raise standards in the city’s private rented sector by using government funding to tackle criminal landlords and ensure vulnerable tenants have access to quality, energy-efficient accommodation.
Of Southampton’s 100,000 homes, approximately a quarter are privately rented properties. It is estimated that there are in the region of 7,000 homes with sub-standard Energy Performance Ratings in the city — a result of poor heating and insulation, which is putting tenants at risk of poor health and financial struggle.
From 1st April 2020, it will be unlawful to rent out a property that breaches the requirement for a minimum ‘E’ rating, unless an exemption has been achieved. This applies to both new and existing tenancies, so Southampton City Council is taking steps to ensure rented properties not only meet energy standards but are also free from any serious hazards.
The council will be using its £20,000 share of the government’s Private Rented Sector Innovation and Enforcement Grant to train, engage and communicate with local landlords, plus target ‘at risk’ households and deliver a range of enforcement activities. Where appropriate, and through wider fuel poverty projects, the council may be able to offer financial assistance to landlords to help them achieve the minimum rating.
Council staff are proud to be working with the Environment Centre, a local charity which specialises in assisting residents that are vulnerable to living in unheated homes, to identify poorly performing properties, criminal landlords and affected residents, and aid prompt compliance.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, commented: “We want to ensure everyone in Southampton has a good quality home. Too many young people and families are being forced to live in poor condition households, which can affect your health and wellbeing, education and employment. This grant is a welcome contribution, adding to our existing efforts to tackle rogue landlords and ensure all our homes are fit for purpose and energy-efficient so they can be more affordable to run.”
Additionally, private renters in Southampton are set to benefit from free, professional advice and support, thanks to specially organised events taking place across the city. The Renters’ Roadshow is designed to help local people rent their home with confidence. The events are free to attend and will cover a whole host of tenancy-related issues, like:
- Knowing your rights.
- Self-inspecting your rented property.
- Benefit entitlement.
- How to report issues with your landlord.
- Dealing with rent arrears.
- Heating your home efficiently.
- What to do if you become homeless.
Header image ©Paul Heasman/AdobeStock.