Touching the Voids

The impact of energy efficiency on social landlord income and business plans

Wilmcote House project completed

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.


In particular:

  • 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.”