In June 2019, the UK government pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 100% by 2050 in comparison to the levels in 1990. The milestones and targets for moving towards net zero emissions are now stated in UK law.
If sectors, organisations, industries and individuals work together to reduce carbon emissions, the hope is that the UK can achieve its net zero goal in order to combat the effects of global warming and the harsh effects of climate change. This can be crucial for the property industry as sector-wide collaboration is essential in order to meet overarching emissions targets.
The UK government believes that by reducing emissions, businesses across the UK will be able to lower costs, attract new clients, qualify for tax benefits, increase their competitive advantage and so much more.
The government is heavily reliant on small-medium sized businesses as they account for 99.9% of the business population in the UK (updated in 2020). This further stresses the fact that many letting agencies will play a vital role in helping the government reach their target.
The ways your business can become net zero
Due to Covid-19, agencies have had to swiftly adapt to hybrid working. Meeting the emissions targets is an added benefit to the adaptations that have been made by many businesses as a result of the pandemic.
Working from home on some days of the week will mean that employees will reduce their commute and in turn reduce emissions. Rotating the days that employees come into the office will allow all staff to reduce their overall emissions throughout the week.
Increase recycling and reducing waste
You can start recycling your paper, plastic and other materials in the office which will help to lessen the negative impact on the environment. By making less waste, or managing it more efficiently, there’s less of it going to landfill, which ultimately benefits the environment. As it stands, 14 million tonnes of waste go to the landfill each year in the UK.
Letting agents can help to reduce waste by using digital documents and e-signatures. Documents can be sent out and signed electronically rather than printing paper that will eventually be discarded.
Switch to electric vehicles, reduce driving or use virtual viewings
Your letting agency might want to consider switching to the use of electric cars to drive to your viewings. Although this is a costly solution, the government offers discounts to reduce the upfront costs, and these vehicles have lower running costs and repair bills.
Additionally, letting agencies could continue offering virtual viewings which would not require any commute to work or adopting a hybrid approach of taking some viewings in person while some can be done online.
Installing energy-saving lighting for example in the office is an easy but effective method to improve sustainability. Your letting agency can also do simple things like turning off computers/devices outside of work hours.
Make it company policy
Putting a net zero plan in place that involves consulting and training staff to encourage tenants to practice sustainable habits in their homes and to communicate the businesses sustainable achievements as well will not only benefit the environment, but it will also help your letting agency gain new landlords that are impressed by sustainability efforts.
Promoting a more sustainable culture that encourages recycling, reduction of waste, and reduction of energy use in the office is a good way of doing this. This will help employees to consider the environment more often at work (and at home).
Provide eco-friendly contractors
Providing certified contractors who specialise in environmentally friendly maintenance can also help to improve the overall sustainability of your lettings agency. With the property owners approval, eco-friendly contractors can be assigned. This will also strengthen the image of your letting agency by giving your clients a number of options towards sustainable practices.
Reinvesting in Carbon Neutral Schemes
To offset your emissions, your letting agency can invest in carbon neutral schemes. It is inevitable that your business will in some way produce emissions that are harmful to the planet. Giving money to schemes that plant trees every time a property is filled could be a way to implement this.
Benefits of becoming net zero
Tenants will pay more for a greener home
According to a 2021 study by LettingaProperty.com, “more than half of tenants would be willing to pay more rent in order to live in a greener home”
In the survey, it was discovered that 98% of renters would prefer to live in an energy-efficient, sustainable home and 52% of participants were willing to pay an extra 10%.
The survey also revealed that 33% of participants would accept a 5% rent increase, while 8% would be willing to pay an extra 20% if it meant they could rent a greener home.
By adding greener homes to your property portfolio, this could provide your business with a competitive advantage, increase rentals and reduce vacant properties as they will be in higher demand.
Lower Climate Change Levy (CCL)
The government encourages businesses to reduce their energy usage. This will result in them paying less tax on their energy usage.
The higher the energy usage, the higher the tax your letting agency will have to pay. In the long run, it would be more cost-efficient to reduce energy usage, and it will also be more beneficial for the environment.
Becoming sustainable and having net zero as a goal will set your letting agency apart from others as it serves as a unique selling point (USP). This can also be used in marketing campaigns as it will capture the attention of clients that believe in the future of our planet and the importance of sustainability.
Helping to save the planet
Most importantly, becoming net zero will help to save the planet. Engaging in sustainable practices that will help to reduce waste and save energy will benefit the planet greatly.
Becoming a net zero ambassador
Having net zero as a goal for your letting agency can put your letting agency in a position to lead tenants in a more sustainable direction. Especially with rising energy costs, your letting agency can encourage tenants to implement lower energy usage solutions in their homes and cement themselves as a market leader. Your agents can become trusted guides and they can benefit from repeat business and winning more landlords.
*Disclaimer: please note this blog is only intended as a guide, and is not to be taken as legal advice*