Biggest gripes for Britain’s rental households – from washing lines to lights on

Leaving lights on, putting recycling in general waste, and leaving clothes in the washing machine are among the biggest gripes for Britain’s rental households, research has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 private renters found they have an average of two fallings out per week with those they live with.

These issues have been intensified by the pandemic with 28 per cent feeling stir crazy as they stare at the same four walls while and 21 per cent dreaming about a more homely living space.

While huge swathes of homeowners have enjoyed getting stuck into home renovation projects this past year, 28 per cent of the nation’s estimated 11million renters feel they have been missing out.

A quarter of those polled wished they could have given their home a makeover – with painting, replacement flooring and new shelves topping a list of tasks they’d like to carry out.

However, a third of renters are too worried to ask for their landlord to improve the property.

But it is not just the aesthetics causing issues among households, with almost 1 in 10 renters also quibbling over bills.

The research was carried out by Smart Energy GB to highlight how smart meters give renters greater visibility of their energy use and, in the case of house-shares, enable people to split bills more easily.

Robert Cheesewright, Director at Smart Energy GB, said: "Tensions can rise in households and it's clear that everyone has challenges now and then – particularly as people have been spending more time in each other's spaces this past 12 months.

“After the year we’ve had, it’s no surprise that renters are doing all they can to improve their home environments, and it’s great to see that energy efficiency and sustainability are a big part of that.

“Smart meters help households to keep an eye on at home energy use and are an essential part of Britain’s commitment to reaching net zero too. If you’re renting and you pay the energy bill, it is your right to request one from your energy supplier.”

Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of respondents said they didn’t have a smart meter, with 52 per cent not realising that they are entitled to request one from their energy supplier if they are the energy billpayer.

For those on pre-payment meters, smart meters allow top ups from home, which could bring an end to fights about who has to go out to the shops to put money on the meter.

With automatic billing and energy usage shown in near-real time, the appliances also give renters greater visibility of their energy use.

The survey, carried out by OnePoll for Smart Energy GB, revealed the big issues among rental households were leaving lights on, leaving dirty dishes in the sink, not turning the TV off and putting recyclable goods in with general waste.

Renters face further frustrations from a lack of house pride – with almost half (46 per cent) saying they are the only one who takes any care in looking after the property.

And 49 per cent said they feel like they are the only one who takes any responsibility for the energy they use in the property.

Smart Energy GB has teamed up with property expert Kate Faulkner, founder of to advise British renters.

She said: “With people spending so much more time at home, many are keen to improve their living space, with sustainability being a key consideration.

“It is natural to want to make your home as comfortable as possible, and the good news is that there are some improvements private renters can make to their homes which don’t require permission from the landlord, or which the landlord is happy for you to go ahead with.

“Things like tidying the garden or outdoor space and of course adding your own furniture can make it feel more like home – all of which can be easily removed prior to leaving.

“Requesting a smart meter from your energy supplier is another way to take control of your home environment, as they give you visibility over your energy spend.

“Many tenants (and landlords) don't realise if you pay the energy bills it is your right to request a smart meter installation. In most cases, your landlord doesn’t even need to be present for the installation, but it's wise to let them or the letting agent know, in writing, you have requested one.”

To find out how to approach your landlord about a smart meter installation go to to learn more.

1. Leaving lights on
2. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink
3. Leaving the TV on
4. Mixing recycling with general waste
5. Leaving the fridge door open
6. Leaving the heating constantly on
7. Leaving out-of-date food in the fridge
8. Clogging the plugholes
9. Leaving clothes the washing machine
10. Leaving marks on the wall
11. Overfilling the kettle
12. Being loud at unsociable hours
13. Falling asleep with the TV on
14. Blocking the toilet
15. Leaving chargers plugged in when not being used
16. Leaving windows open
17. Stealing food
18. Not paying bills on time
19. Playing music loudly
20. Hogging the television
21. Not unplugging appliances when they’re not being used
22. Taking chargers without permission
23. Breaking lockdown socialising rules
24. Only half-filling the washing machine for a cycle
25. Hogging all the space in the fridge

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