The government must increase minimum energy efficiency standards and reform tenancies to give tenants the confidence to ask for improvements to their homes, new research from Generation Rent has concluded.

Generation Rent say 14% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from homes, but the government’s flagship £1.5bn Green Homes Grant has been beset by administrative problems and low take-up.

Amid confusion about its future, there was no mention of it in Wednesday’s Budget.

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Generation Rent is calling on the government to encourage improvements such as insulation and low-carbon heating by requiring landlords to bring their homes up to a rating of C or above, and allowing tenants who live in a substandard home to claim back rent.

In addition, they are calling for a better Energy Performance Certificate regime and a national register of landlords to allow tenants to check their landlord is compliant and give them the information they need to request improvements.

Placing restrictions on evicting tenants or raising rents to provide assurance that they will benefit from improvements being carried out would also be an effective measure according to the group.

Landlords have been unmoved by the Green Homes Grant, as by November just 14% of applications for the Green Homes Grant were from landlords.

For the research, 51 members of Generation Rent’s renters panel looked into what improvements could be made to their homes, using the government’s Simple Energy Advice website.

From their feedback, Generation Rent identified three barriers to private rented homes getting energy efficient measures installed, including that renters don’t know enough about their homes to make informed requests for improvements.

Fewer than half knew if their walls were insulated.

Energy Performance Certificates are legally required but don’t have to be updated after installations, so can be up to 10 years out of date.

Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of Generation Rent, said: “No-one has much of an incentive to make rented homes greener – landlords are in control but don’t pay the bills, while renters won’t make demands if it means the rent might go up.

“If the government is serious about reducing the carbon emissions from our homes, it must use a stick in the form of higher minimum standards for landlords, but also give renters a carrot in the form of stronger rights.

“Renters who are more secure in their home and can claim back rent from an offending landlord will be able to enforce their rights to a warmer home and drive the green revolution.”