Could going green boost your bottom line?

Most tenants are looking for a few key points when they are hunting for their dream home: rent within their budget, plenty of space and a good location – all vital elements that you’re sure to include on your description when writing the perfect eye-catching advert.

Most tenants are looking for a few key points when they are hunting for their dream home: rent within their budget, plenty of space and a good location – all vital elements that you’re sure to include on your description when writing the perfect eye-catching advert.

However, as priorities change and evolve, should you be thinking along different lines…?

We are becoming more environmentally aware than ever before, and not before time. However, you may find that having a green outlook on your rental business could actually help boost your profits and seal the deal with tenants.

Making sure your property stands out amid all the others is key to finding a great tenant, and being able to showcase how you have gone above and beyond in making sure that your property is not only in great rental condition, but also managed to ensure that fuel costs are as low as possible should really help.

As long as you utilise smart methods to upgrade your home to a ‘green-property’, you should be able to highlight how it can do its bit for the environment, and offer tangible financial benefits for tenants too.

Of course, making sure that your property ticks efficiency boxes doesn’t just help you out if you’re looking for a tenant…

In April this year, a new legislation – the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) - came into force requiring every residential rental property to have an EPC rating of at least E. The changes were said to have impacted about 30,000 rental properties immediately.

The regulations state that landlords of properties with an EPC rating of F or G cannot legally grant a new tenancy or renew an existing tenancy unless they have registered an exemption. The rules will apply to all tenancies, new, old and existing by April 2020.

Whilst there are exemptions in place – details can be found here - it's better to be as prepared as you can be, as the exemptions all have a time limit.

If you’re thinking about boosting your property’s green credentials, we’ve compiled our top ten tips to help make minor changes for maximum efficiency:

  1. Good insulation: The oldest trick in the efficiency book, but for good reason. Effectively insulating your property – areas like lofts and cavity walls - will make a huge difference in the cold winter months, and should save your tenants a fortune on heating bills.
  2. Eco-lightbulbs: As one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest switches, making the change to LED lightbulbs is a real no-brainer. A standard LED lightbulb in regular use is said to last the same length of time as 21 fluorescent bulbs, producing brighter light and using less power whilst doing so.
  3. Low-flush toilets: Every toilet flush uses up to 12 litres of water, which is a huge amount considering how many times the average family use the loo a day! Fitting low-flush toilets could save up to 60% of the water per use. This type of upgrade is nothing new, people have been putting a brick into their toilet cistern for years to reduce the water flow, but a proper low-flush cistern may be more appropriate for your investment property!
  4. Water-saving shower heads: For many tenants a power-shower is a deal clincher, but as power-shower runs at 22 litres a minute, feeling clean isn’t very green! In some areas with low water pressure, the water-saving heads can have an impact on the oomph of the shower, but if the pressure in your area is good, these clever gadgets can really wash away the wastage.
  5. Underfloor heating: Underfloor heating is considered by many experts to provide a much more efficient heat than traditional radiators, and the seamless aesthetic is appealing to many tenants. It may be a little excessive to rip all your radiators out for the sake of this (fairly costly) upgrade, but if you are undertaking a renovation project, it may be worth considering.
  6. Thermostatic radiator valves: Underfloor heating may be a bridge too far, but there are some simple heating changes that make a big difference. Adding thermostatic valves to radiators, which shut off the radiator when the room temperature is reached, is a simple change and at £10 to £20 per valve, a more affordable option.
  7. Smart thermostats: The UK weather is not known for its predictability – and working with it is vital. Smart thermostats, such as the HIVE, link to a smartphone and allow users to control the property’s heating, hot water and even lighting remotely – so the radiators needn’t be blaring out heat while your tenants BBQ outside during an October heatwave! Ideal for saving money, preventing energy waste, and even adding an additional security feature too.
  8. Block up chimneys: Original fireplaces are a great feature, but leaving them unmanaged can see other energy efficiency measures go up in smoke. If the fireplace is unused, a simple method is to fit a chimney balloon, which is inserted up the chimney and inflated, blocking cold draughts, rain and debris. They are also simple to remove should the chimney ever be called into action again.
  9. Top rated appliances: If you are providing white goods in your property, try to make sure that they are the most efficient options on the market. Appliances are graded A to G on the efficiency scale, with A being the best and G the worst. Fridges and freezers have three extra ratings, A+, A++ and A+++, and washing machines have three efficiency ratings for energy consumption, washing and spinning (you’d be looking for an AAA).
  10. New EPC assessment: Your EPC is the official document showcasing how well you have done with the changes that you have made, so make it count! An EPC lasts ten years, so you may not need to refresh yours legally, but don’t let an old rating mask your hard work. Be sure to show the assessor all of the paperwork showing details of work, and allow access to any areas (loft etc) for them to assess the outcome.

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