Tenants looking to avoid feeling the chill in a newly rented property this winter can find a warmer place to live with a few simple questions, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
Ian Potter, Managing Director, ARLA said, Utility bills are a key consideration for most tenants, especially during the colder winter months. There are many well insulated private rental sector properties available, but there are others which may require tenants to use their own common sense to reduce bills.
ARLA has the following tips to help tenants identify key property features that could help keep them warm this winter:
1. Ask about insulation
When viewing a property, be sure to find out what kind of insulation is installed and how recently this was put in. While factors like loft insulation may not be immediately visible, they can make a huge difference to a property’s heat retention, especially if the property is a period conversion rather than a new build.
A lack of snow or frost on a property’s roof during a cold snap can be a good indicator that a lot of heat is being lost through poor insulation.
2. Look at a copy of the EPC
An energy performance certificate (EPC) should be available for prospective tenants consideration as part of the viewing process. This can give a good indication of how energy efficient a property is. The closer to A, the more likely it is to hold in heat and register lower utility bills.
If you’re unsure about what the EPC means for a given property, ask an ARLA agent for further information as their industry experience and training will allow them to explain in detail.
3. Don’t forget the boiler
A new boiler can make a significant difference to heating bills; therefore it is always worth asking when the model was installed. This can also be a factor if there are multiple showers in the property, which can be a drain on hot water levels.
All boilers should be regularly serviced by a certified gas fitter, and be sure to check the legally required documentation before signing any tenancy agreement. If the boiler has not been checked recently, ask the landlord to agree to a check-up before you move in.
4. Paying the bills
While many landlords will state that electricity and gas suppliers should not be changed in the tenancy agreement, it is always a good idea to check. If they do allow you to change supplier, it is always possible that you could find a cheaper deal, meaning there is less pressure to use the heating sparingly.
If you are not permitted to change supplier, asking the current tenants about their experiences of running costs is a useful way of getting a broad idea of how much bills will be in a property, especially if there is a marked increase during the winter months.
5. Double glazing and curtains
Many properties lose heat through windows, so always check the glazing in each room. Single glazing or larger windows can often make rooms colder, and this should be a key consideration for winter months.
Curtains can be one solution to this problem, but are only effective if they are reasonably thick and are fitted to the window. For added warmth, be sure to ask the landlord or letting agent if they are happy for you to put up curtains if they are not already fitted.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) was formed in 1981 as the professional and regulatory body for letting agents in the UK. Today ARLA is recognised by government, local authorities, consumer interest groups and the media as the leading professional body in the private rented sector. ARLA is a sister organisation to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
In May 2009 ARLA became the first body in the letting and property management industry to introduce a licensing scheme for all members to promote the highest standards of practice in this important and growing sector of the property market. Both ARLA and NAEA members are governed by Codes of Practice providing a framework of ethical and professional standards at a level far higher than the law demands, and both Associations have their own complaints and disciplinary procedures so that any dispute is dealt with efficiently and fairly.