Rotherham tenants in fear of high heating costs opt to be cold

Radiators fitted at Norton Conyers Hall, Wath, near Ripon.23rd March 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Radiators fitted at Norton Conyers Hall, Wath, near Ripon.23rd March 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

People are endangering their health by living in cold and damp conditions, as they turn off the heat in dread of high heating bills and loss of tenancy.

Many fearful Rotherham housing tenants in the private rented sector opt to live in freezing cold homes.

They keep warm with coats and blankets or by spending less time inside, research carried out by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by the Eaga Charitable Trust revealed.

The private rented sector houses a higher proportion of poor and vulnerable households than any other tenure, and contains most of the least energy-efficient properties.

Research focused on private rental sector tenants in Rotherham and Hackney. It was clear that tenants face barriers to seeking help with cold homes that are unaffordable to heat.

Respondents in both locations experienced dangerously cold homes and rationed heating in winter due to energy inefficient properties and bill worries. Many were reluctant to contact landlords in case of retaliatory action or even eviction.

Excess cold, condensation, and extensive damp and mould were reported widely, with respondents also highlighting increased suffering associated with chronic health conditions such as respiratory diseases and arthritis, known to be exacerbated by cold homes and the emotional strain of insecure tenancies.

Over half of participants used pre-payment methods for heating and so paid higher tariffs, but despite this, many valued pre-payment meters as a way of controlling spending on heating. Under the Energy Act (2011), tenants can request consent from their landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements to properties.

The landlord cannot unreasonably refuse consent. It is, however, down to the tenants to arrange funding.