The cost of heating a buy to let home is a hot topic for landlords after a tribunal ruled that tenants have a right to affordable energy bills.
Liverpool City Council won the case on appeal before the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (UTLC) that dictates landlords must make sure heating running costs in their letting properties are not too expensive for renters.
An earlier hearing at a Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) had decided that as long as the heating in a rented home kept the property warm, the landlord did not have to consider energy costs.
The council’s environmental health officers had taken the case to the RPT, arguing that the landlord should make sure the heating was affordable as well after a tenant complained about the cost of heating a buy to let home in Botanic Road, Liverpool.
Landlord Anwar Kassim had dismissed the council’s advice when fitting panel heaters on standard tariff electricity at the home, but the RPT backed the landlord despite hearing the house dated back to before 1920 and was poorly insulated.
The council appealed to the UTLC and produced an analysis of heating costs for the home with different tariffs.
The council told the tribunal that providing heating and hot water for the house on a standard electricity tariff would cost an average £1,826 per year, while fan-assisted storage radiators on an Economy 7 tariff would cost £896 per year and gas central heating would be priced at £623 a year.
The UTLC concluded that the RPT made a mistake in their ruling by deciding that the running costs of a heating system are not irrelevant in assessing “excess cold” under the Housing Act 2004.
The UTLC has ordered the RPT to reconsider the case.
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing and community safety, said: “This is fantastic news. It is wrong for private landlords to get away with installing heating systems that are cheap for them but are exorbitant for their tenants to use and stay warm. Fuel poverty is a major issue in Liverpool and this decision will benefit every private tenant.”
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