TENANTS living in unacceptably cold homes are being urged to take action by Hambleton District Council.

New energy efficiency regulations came into force in April last year stopping landlords renting out properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G, the lowest two energy efficiency ratings available - unless a valid exemption has been registered with the National PRS Exemption Register.

Excess cold is by far the largest preventable cause of death in the private rented sector.

It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that 30 per cent of avoidable winter deaths are due to people living in cold homes.

These can be prevented if people were kept warm during the winter months.

Hambleton councillor, Stephen Watson, portfolio holder for Environmental Health, said: “Everyone should be protected against the cold in their own home.”

“Whilst the vast majority of landlords take great pride in the properties they own, a minority still rent out housing that is difficult to keep warm.

“Upgrading these homes so they are more energy efficient is one of the most effective ways to tackle fuel poverty and help bring down bills for their tenants.

“We are urging anyone living in rented accommodation who has a limited number of heating units, or if the heating is not working properly or unreasonably expensive to use, or they are suffering from condensation or mould growth to let their landlords know in the first instance.

“If no improvements are made then they should contact the district council’s residential service team for further advice.”

For homes in breach of the regulations, local authorities can use enforcement measures or issue a fine which is capped at £5,000.

Councils also have powers to issue a publication penalty which would see the details of a landlord breach published on the PRS Exemptions Register.

Tenants can check the rating of their property by using the free online EPC register at epcregister.com