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Is it Time For HMO Landlords to Ditch ‘Bills Included’ Once and For All?

Peter Hemple asks what challenges HMO landlords face as we enter a winter like no other

The UK faces a “dramatic and catastrophic winter for customers” as energy prices soar, according to Philippe Commaret, the managing director of EDF Energy’s retail business. At the end of August, Commaret called for extra government intervention, including help for households to insulate their homes and a VAT cut for small businesses as energy prices jumped to record levels.

Prices for gas and electricity, which had already shot up around the world as economies recovered from the pandemic, have been sent soaring by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Russia using its control over European gas supplies, through regular shutdowns to gas plants ‘for maintenance’ to try to gain political leverage and to stop western European countries from stockpiling gas supplies.

“We face, despite the support the government has already announced, a dramatic and catastrophic winter for customers,” Commaret told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding “in January, half of the UK households might be in fuel poverty.”

The regulator Ofgem raised the energy price cap on Friday 26 August, upping the average household spend to £3,549 a year. Prior to this announcement, the average annual domestic energy bill was capped at £1,971, and the energy price cap is forecast to hit as much as £4,400 by April 2023. However, there are concerns that the cap could rise even faster and consultancy Auxilione said at the time of writing that the average home could be paying £6,500 a year by April 2023.

Poorly insulated homes face much higher bills
Families in energy inefficient homes will pay £850 more this winter in energy bills, according to analysis by the Resolution Foundation, which found that bills in January will be £231 higher on average for people in energy performance certificate (EPC) F homes compared to those living in EPC C properties. Over the 2022-23 winter period, the difference will add up to £849, an average of £141 per month.

The report said that almost half of annual household gas costs come from usage between January and March, which means this winter will be particularly difficult for tenants that have pre-payment meters as the costs cannot smoothed out over the year.

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