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Is it worth becoming a green landlord?

Increasing numbers of landlords are finding themselves having to address the move towards a greener, more sustainable future – especially with an impending energy crisis on the horizon. Many are adopting a hands-on approach to the issue, while others are discovering that more tenants are becoming savvy when it comes to energy-efficiency.

Is this a gradual shift, or should landlords go all-out with green initiatives straight away? In the future, tighter laws will mean that landlords won’t have much of a choice; but right now, there is a degree of leeway. Let’s have a look at some of the positives and negatives of becoming a green landlord:

The positives

1.    Government grants

Going green doesn’t have to be costly – from the autumn, landlords will be entitled to financial help from the government under the terms of its Green Deal. If tenants ask for energy-efficiency improvements, these may be covered by the scheme.

Landlords are being encouraged to look at it from two standpoints – firstly, it’s an opportunity for them to demonstrate self-regulation standards. Secondly, they’re likely to reduce future maintenance bills and make their properties more comfortable for tenants.

2.    Attract more tenants

Landlords who offer tenants lower energy bills are sure to attract more prospective tenants. This may even allow to some to increase their rental income, which will help offset the cost of their residential property insurance policy.

3.    Comply with future laws

Laws will take effect to ensure that UK meets its promise of using less energy and reducing its carbon emissions. Landlords can get ahead of the game by taking action now instead of waiting months or years. While this is likely to burn an initial hole in the wallet, the long-term effects – both financial and environmental – are indisputable.

The negatives

1.    Cost of insurance policies

Expensive, high-tech equipment such as solar panels may push up the cost of domestic or business buildings insurance. Make sure you don’t get stung by high premiums by using specialists to help you secure the best landlords insurance deal.

2.    Installation costs

Solar panels, improved insulation and draft excluders can cost landlords a lot to install. But while the upfront cost will be large, there is help in the form of the Green Deal – although landlords will have to wait until 2016 and 2018 for it to take full effect in two stages. Further, if the tenants’ energy bills are wrapped up in their rent, landlords can look forward to cheaper energy bills in the months and years ahead.

3.    Installation time

The cost of installation is one thing; the time new equipment takes to be fitted is another. Some upgrades – low-flush toilets, for example – can make a property uninhabitable while they’re being installed, a process that itself may take some time. While there aren’t tenants in the property, landlords won’t be making any money – but as with all residential improvements, it pays to look at the bigger picture and the associated long-term benefits.