Private tenants are harder hit by soaring energy costs than homeowners – with those in the West Midlands spending the most in the UK to fuel their homes.
A new report by RICS reveals how those renting in the private sector pay on average £31 more every year than homeowners and £90 more than tenants living in social housing.
A lack of incentives for private landlords to insulate their rental properties and update heating equipment is thought to result in higher bills for their tenants.
Homeowners are more likely to insulate and modernise heating facilities and see a direct impact on their energy use and spend, the research claims.
RICS spokesperson for the region, David Stuart-Smith of Andrew Grant LLP, said: “Tenants in the West Midlands are affected by a cooler climate together with a probable higher preponderance of converted or older properties with relatively low insulation standards.
“There is also a greater number of properties with electric heating – the single highest contributing factor to energy expenditure – and almost certainly a greater proportion of prepaid electricity supplies resulting from higher credit risks and unemployment factors.”
The report also reveals that those living in the suburbs are spending more on energy than their urban neighbours by £9.11 annually.
It also notes that those who use prepay meters spend £91 more than households who pay by direct debit, hitting those most at risk of fuel poverty the hardest.
Richard Franklin of Edward Gallimore Estate Agents, added: “The age and type of housing stock are the key determinants for the West Midlands being in the unenviable position as the region with the highest fuel costs for domestic properties.
“Private landlords, unlike owner occupiers and the public sector, have had little incentive to address these issues historically, but as 2016 looms, when minimum energy performance certificate levels will be required for rental properties, wise landlord’s are gearing up for improvements.”
With the Green Deal coming in later this year and Government legislation planned, landlords will soon be obliged to ensure their properties are brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard rating.
Jeremy Blackburn, RICS head of UK policy, said: “Those renting privately should expect the same standards in insulation and heating as homeowners and those in social housing.
“More needs to be done to ensure private rental property is fit for purpose and energy efficient.
“It is important that the Green Deal effectively addresses this at a time when tenants across the country are struggling with high fuel bills and increasing rents.”
The research, which has been conducted by the School of Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University, compared socio-economic characteristics such as dwelling type, occupation, age and length of residence with energy expenditure.
The report was commissioned by RICS Education Trust and conducted by Sotirios Thanos and Neil Dunse.