Touching The Voids
Improving the energy efficiency of social housing is a proven win for tenants with lower energy bills and a more comfortable home, but the benefits to the landlord haven’t always been so clearly evidenced. As social housing providers explore ways to deal with the current financial climate, new research by Sustainable Homes highlights how investment in energy efficiency can help to deliver a financial boost for social landlords – through a reduction in rent arrears and shorter void periods.
Rent arrears pose a big challenge for the social housing sector; an analysis by the National Housing Federation found that 1 in 10 social landlords have more than £1million in rents outstanding. In some areas, properties lying empty are more of an issue than excess demand, particularly as void properties attract administration and maintenance costs without generating any income.
This new study from Sustainable Homes, which involved data from 25 social landlords managing half a million homes between them, looked at whether undertaking energy efficiency improvements could do anything do help. The findings showed a strong correlation between retrofit measures and potential savings to landlords through reduced voids and rent arrears.
- Energy efficient homes are typically void for a shorter length of time than leaky stock - on average EPC band B properties remained void for 31% less time than those in bands E and F.
- Administration costs are considerable for voids – landlords with more energy efficient stock are spending less on refurbishing void homes, less on repairs and less on staff time to manage voids.
- There is a correlation between the length of time in arrears and the energy efficiency of homes. Colder homes, especially those in band F, have on average two weeks more rent arrears each year than more energy efficient stock. The highest-performing band A properties spent 30% less time in arrears compared with the worst performing homes.
- An analysis of further costs shows that time spent seeking overdue rent payments, legal costs and court costs declined by around 35% for more energy efficient homes.
The boost to landlords’ bottom lines from more energy efficient homes could be significant – with potential for upto 10,000 home providers to save over £2.4 million if they upgraded their stock from an average SAP 65 to SAP 75.
Darren Snaith, Director or Refurbishment and Regeneration at ROCKWOOL commented: “Asset managers have long understood the many benefits of energy efficiency for residents but it can be difficult to evidence the financial case for landlords themselves. This research establishes a correlation between making an investment in energy efficiency and seeing a boost to the bottom line and further proves that energy efficiency is a win-win proposition.”
Set within the northern Manchester suburbs, Collyhurst is an economically rundown area that houses some of the most deprived communities in the country.
The challenge The design of the O2 arena’s roof had to incorporate state-of-the-art acoustic engineering to eliminate virtually all nuisance ambient noise (bass thumping) outside the arena while ensuring fantastic acoustics inside the structure.
Wilmcote House is a sheltered housing scheme in Portsmouth, featuring three connected 11 storey blocks of 107 residential maisonettes, originally constructed in 1968.
In December 2007, RCT Homes Ltd became Wales’s largest social landlord after taking over the ownership and management of nearly 11,000 homes from Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. A not-for-profit organisation, RCT Homes provides high quality housing and manages housing services for more than 60 housing estates and 27 sheltered housing schemes.
Stopsley High School is a mixed Comprehensive and Community College that is located in the northern suburb of Luton. Achieving ‘Specialist Sports College’ status in 2002, the school educates children from 11-16 years old. In 2013, the school received funding from the Government, via the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), which aims to address the needs of schools most in need of urgent repair.
REECH (Renewables and Energy Efficiency in Community Housing) is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded project aimed at improving energy efficiency in some of the most deprived communities in Liverpool. Social housing provider, One Vision Housing, accessed ERDF funding to help fund the improvement of the Hornby Flats Estate development in Litherland.
Aldgate Tower is a brand new, state-of-the-art office development, the first phase of a wider regeneration of the Aldgate area in London.
A tightly grouped housing development, less than 500m from the south bank of the Dee estuary, Dee Cottages is an early example of corporate involvement in housing design directly associated with the arrival of the Courtaulds company during the closing years of the First World War.
The task was to extend the life of three 1960s residential tower blocks by significantly improving the insulation, thereby increasing thermal comfort and making the flats more economical for residents to heat.