Tenants demand eco-friendly features

By Will Leyland, 31 July 2018

Environmental discussion is hard to avoid, especially when we’re in the midst of one of the hottest and driest summers on record. Contemporary heatwaves aside, however, the environment and eco-friendly practices have slowly but surely been muscling their way to the forefront of consumer thinking for some time.

New research released by BLP Insurance appears to confirm this as they revealed this week that 78% of people consider the environmentally sustainable performance of a building important when choosing a new home.

Thinking with regards to location, an enormous 81% of respondents in London said that the long term environmental and sustainable performance of a new home is important to them, whilst 68% of respondents in Sheffield and 75% in Newcastle agreed.

Of course environmentally friendly can mean many different things, whether that be double glazing to be more energy efficient, or having an internal water recycling system. Both fall into the same category but represent wildly different implementation costs.

In their research, BLP asked respondents what their top priority was when it came to environmentally efficient features and just under 25% said that energy efficiency in heating and hot water systems was their number one concern.

Other features that appeared in the research were double glazing, modern insulation and solar panels. It was also noted that the added advantage of solar panels and other energy generating features was to lower energy costs for tenants.

Perhaps one of the more surprising findings was that just 5% of respondents agreed that smart metres were a desirable feature, despite billions being invested by the government to kit out the nation’s homes with the devices. This comes off the back of new research which claims that smart metres only save £11 per year on average in energy costs.

Kim Vernau, CEO of BLP Insurance, told Property Reporter: “As people become increasingly concerned about environmental issues, demand for environmentally sustainable features for new homes will continue to grow. Initiatives such as the Energy Efficient Mortgages Action Plan (EeMAP) will help finance an increase in sustainable homes by incentivising building owners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties or acquire already efficient buildings.”

In the modern buy-to-let (BTL) market it’s almost inconceivable that the majority of landlords aren’t already legally obliged, or committed, to environmentally efficient fittings but this recent research highlights the importance with which consumers view them.

For those of us who are entering into or expanding into the BTL market and looking to maximise rental growth then it should be no surprise that a short term investment into eco-friendly features in your property could well yield greater returns in the long run as the property is able to attract the highest rental demand.

For those selling BTL rent-returning properties it’s perhaps worth looking at increasing eco-friendly features now in order to yield a better sale price and increasing the draw of such an investment.

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