A PIONEERING scheme aimed at helping cut carbon in rented properties in East Oxford is under way.

Low Carbon East Oxford is trying to reduce the carbon footprint of the area, but as many properties were rented out, there were only minimal changes that could be carried out without the landlord’s permission.

Now the group is offering to carry out free energy audits on 200 private rented properties across East Oxford with a view to encouraging and supporting landlords to make changes.

Group chairman Craig Simmons said: “It’s a win-win scheme.

“Landlords get help with improving their homes, tenants get to say goodbye to draughty houses and soaring energy bills.

“The community as a whole builds skills in energy efficiency, improves the housing stock and cuts potentially tonnes of carbon to boot.”

The idea is to train energy surveyors to carry out full surveys of the homes.

Both tenants and landlords are being recruited for the free survey, which will advise property owners on what changes can be made and how to access tax relief incentives such as the landlord energy saving allowances.

There will also be a competition for one home to become a Jubilee Superhome, winning solid wall insulation worth £9,000.

According to the 2001 census, 55 per cent of homes in East Oxford were rented.

Energy group member Catrina Pickering, who lives in rented accommodation in the area, said: “I think it’s really great that it’s happening because we have such a high proportion of rented property.

“It has always frustrated me that there was very little in the way of energy efficiency that could help me as a person who rents their home.”

She said that while there was no money available other than the superhome contest, the group would be able to provide expertise on both how to make energy efficiency improvements and how to gain up to £1,500 of tax relief through the Government scheme.

Organisers have been in contact with landlords, letting agents and tenants .

Ms Pickering said four letting agents had attended an information event and shown interest in being involved, and two independent landlords had also shown interest.

The scheme is a partnership with other organisations including Low Carbon Hub, GaiaVeda, People and Planet, Best Foot Forward and Joju Solar.

The project is due to run throughout this month.